Senegal to scrap upper house to raise flood funds

DAKAR Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:49am EDT

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese President Macky Sall presented plans on Thursday to scrap the West African nation's upper house of parliament to raise funds needed to fight annual flooding which killed six and left several neighborhoods under water last weekend.

Sall, who won March elections on a ticket to cut excessive spending on state institutions, said the abolition of the 100-seat Senate would free up eight billion CFA francs ($15 million) a year for urgently needed infrastructure improvements.

The measure is likely to be welcomed in poor suburbs of the capital Dakar which suffer flooding every rainy season because of shoddy urban planning. It will be discussed in cabinet on Thursday and is set to be voted in the lower house within weeks.

"I am insisting more than ever on what I have called the new order of priority: the primacy of the nation over political parties and the reduction of government spending for the benefit of the population," said Sall, who earlier this week cut short a private visit to South Africa because of the flooding.

"That is why in this spirit, I have decided to submit as a matter of urgency, a constitutional amendment bill aimed at abolishing the Senate," he said.

Senatorial elections were expected in the coming weeks.

The measure would be the second time the Senegalese Senate was abolished since its creation in 1999. Sall's predecessor Abdoulaye Wade abolished it in 2001 to save money but later reinstituted it in 2007.

In common with many former French colonies, Senegal has a presidential system modeled closely on France's. Political commentators complain that the Senate, with over half if its members appointed by the president, has tended to be used mostly as a reward for political favors.

($1 = 523.6140 CFA francs)

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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