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Senegal opposition coalition promises new currency and revamp of oil contracts

A Senegalese opposition coalition, supported by the influential figure Ousmane Sonko, unveiled its presidential campaign platform on Saturday. Their agenda includes pledges to introduce a new national currency and reevaluate mining and energy agreements.

While public opinion polling is scarce in Senegal, the coalition’s candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, is viewed as a formidable contender among the 19 presidential hopefuls in the upcoming March 24 election.

If elected, the coalition’s proposals could have significant ramifications for both the West African Economic and Monetary Union, spanning eight nations, and Senegal’s ambitions to enter oil production later this year.

Faye stated, “Convinced that true independence hinges on economic control, including sectors like agriculture, fisheries, and digital infrastructure, we are dedicated to achieving sovereignty in various domains such as food, energy, and technology.”

Following Sonko’s disqualification due to a defamation conviction, members of his disbanded Pastef party joined forces with other factions to form the coalition and nominate Faye as their candidate in November.

Sonko has urged his supporters to throw their weight behind Faye, a matter of concern for competitors given Sonko’s broad popularity, especially among disillusioned youth facing economic challenges and job shortages in Senegal.

The coalition’s platform outlines strategies to address inequalities and bolster employment while proposing significant governmental reforms such as creating a vice-presidential position and abolishing the prime minister’s role.

Among their proposals likely to unsettle regional allies and investors are tax reforms, the introduction of a national currency, and the reevaluation of contracts linked to mining, hydrocarbons, public procurement, and infrastructure.

While the platform outlines measures needed for currency reform, it also poses a potential threat to the CFA franc currency utilized in West Africa, which some nations under junta leadership have hinted at abandoning.

While lacking specifics on contract restructuring, the platform commits to making the mining sector a key driver of socio-economic growth and maximizing revenues from oil extraction.

Senegal’s inaugural offshore oil project, the Sangomar oil and gas venture operated by Woodside Energy, is slated to commence production in mid-2024, targeting an output of approximately 100,000 barrels per day.

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