Members of the Senegalese Parliament on Wednesday September 12 voted overwhelmingly to scrap the country's Senate. Radio France Internationale, RFI, reported that the move came a few days ahead of elections into the Upper House of the National Assembly initially scheduled for this Sunday, September 16.
Members of the ruling APR party and coalition justified their decision by the fact that the Senate was expensive to run, that it had never really played its role and half of its members were appointed by the Head of State. Supporters of former President Abdoulaye Wade's PDS party voted against the bill, suggesting that the decision of President Macky Sall to demand the scrapping of the Senate was not the floods, but pressure from his M23 coalition partners. According to them, changes should have been made to the manner of selecting Senators instead of abolishing the House.
Analysts say the bill will now be sent to the Senate where the opposition holds the majority. After this, the President can either call a joint session of both chambers of the National Assembly to vote on the bill again or put the issue to referendum.
Last month, the President promised to introduce an emergency bill to abolish the Upper House of Parliament after severe floods hit the country. Speaking at Dakar Airport after cutting short a trip to South Africa, Macky Sall said the over 15 million dollars (about FCFA 7.6 billion) reserved for the Senate would go towards preventing further flooding, the BBC said. In May, the World Bank pledged 55.6 million dollars (about FCFA 28.3 billion) to help Senegal improve its flood defences, particularly in suburbs of the capital, Dakar.
Although the low-lying suburbs of the capital flood during most rainy seasons, this year has seen exceptionally high rainfall across West Africa. It is estimated that thousands of people have been left homeless with many killed. Dakar residents were reported to have taken to the streets to denounce the government for failing to act faster and were dispersed with tear gas. President Sall came to power last March, after beating veteran politician, Abdoulaye Wade.