Senegal cabinet approves vice president position

Senegal's cabinet has approved a proposal to create the position of a vice-president who will be a running...

President of Senegal

Senegal's cabinet has approved a proposal to create the position of a vice-president who will be a running mate for the president in next year's election.

Observers see the move as a means for Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, 84, to maintain his grip on power while preparing grounds for a possible succession.

The proposed plan has to be approved by the West African country's national assembly.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to the post of prime minister, who is currently appointed by the president.

Opposition challengers have accused Wade of manipulating preparations for the February, 2012 vote, so as to ensure an easy victory for himself even as his government faces rising anger over poor living conditions and chronic power shortages.

"It is clear that he is seeking to maintain himself in power by all means," said Landing Savane, secretary general of And Jeff opposition party. "Given his age, he cannot embark on an electoral campaign alone, so he needs to lean on someone."

"Also there is the problem of his candidacy which has to be decided by the constitutional court," Savane said.

Senegal's new constitution limits presidents to two terms of five years. But Wade, who came to power in 2000, has argued that his first term did not count because the new constitution did not come into force until 2001.

"This confirms what we have been saying. He (Wade) has not backed off from his plan to turn Senegal in to a monarchy," said Amath Dansokho, of the independent workers party (PIT).

The opposition says Wade is nurturing plans to engineer the succession of his son Karim Wade, 43, who is also a minister in his cabinet. Wade has denied the charges.