Senegal's Ndour named culture minister

World music icon is part of Macky Sall's new cabinet, which includes the president's allies holding key portfolios.

    Youssou Ndour (L), a fierce critic of former leader Abdoulaye Wade, is part of a Senegal's new cabinet  [EPA]

    World music icon Youssou Ndour has been named Senegal's minister for culture and tourism in President Macky Sall's cabinet, according to a government decree.

    "It is a great day for Senegal, a great day for Africa... now we can get to work! I am very happy, very moved. It is democracy which has won," Ndour said after the announcement on Wednesday.

    The Grammy-award winning singer, a fierce critic of former leader Abdoulaye Wade who hung up his microphone to campaign for Sall, forms part of a small government of 25 people appointed by Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye.

    One of Africa's most recognised artists, Ndour sent shockwaves through the music industry when he announced in January he was giving up performing to run for president amid rising tension over the incumbent's bid for a third term in office.

    However, shortly afterward the country's constitutional council rejected his candidacy on the grounds that he had failed to provide enough valid signatures to back his application.

    The same court ruling validated Wade's contentious candidacy, sparking deadly riots as anger grew over the 85-year old's plans to rule for another seven year term.

    Allies appointed

    Ndour jumped to the forefront of an opposition campaign to unseat Wade and was often seen at protests addressing the crowd.

    When Macky Sall emerged as the most likely candidate to beat Wade, and 12 failed candidates threw their weight behind him, Ndour also hit the campaign trail for the opposition candidate.

    Sall won the election on March 25 with 66 per cent, and when he entered the presidential palace as the nation's new leader on Monday, Ndour was there as they watched Wade leave power.

    Sall appointed allies in key positions such as home affairs, justice, foreign affairs, communication and education.

    Banker Amadou Kane, former head of the Senegalese branch of French bank BNP, was named minister of the economy.

    Well-known ecologist of Lebanese origin Ali Haidar, who has been heavily involved in the protection of the country's marine environment, was named minister of ecology.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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