The Senegalese capital of Dakar has a new mayor by the name of Soham El Wardini. Wardini is the first woman post-independence to hold the post. Until her election last Saturday, September 29, she was the deputy mayor to embattled Khalifa Sall – who has been imprisoned since March 2017 over corruption charges, despite repeatedly claiming it is a political witch-hunt.
Wardini captured 64 votes against 13 and 11 for Moussa Sy and Banda Diop respectively. “I am proud to be the first female mayor of the Senegalese capital,” she stated after results of the election to replace Sall were announced. Wardini went on to reiterate her support for Khalifa and saying that she still considered him as being the mayor. “The teams will remain unchanged. We will finish the projects started. The key is to get back to work and stay united. I assure you that the fight continues,” she added to the joy of loyal Sall followers.
Appointed deputy in 2014, Wardini served as acting mayor during the period that Sall shuttled between jail and the courts. Incidentally, until August 31st, when Sall was officially stripped of his tenure, she visited him in prison to take instructions on how to run Dakar.
Wardini has a little over a year before the next municipal elections are held when she can run for her first official term in charge of one of Africa’s booming capitals. She has set her sights on ensuring a clean capital under her tenure: “I do not want Dakar to be named one of the dirtiest cities in the world. It deserves every sacrifice” she declared after the polls.
Who is Soham El Wardini? Wardini was born in 1953 in the town of Latmingué in the Kaolack region. Her father is of Lebanese origin while her mother is full Senegalese. Soham El Wardini grew up along with ten other siblings in Latmingue. It was the death of her father, a peanut trader that caused the family to migrate to Kaolack where she received much of her high school education, graduate studies and then became a teacher.
Her political journey began in 1999 when she joined the Alliance of Forces of Progress (AFP) of former Socialist Prime Minister, Moustapha Niasse, who is the current leader of the National Assembly. Following the split of the party in 2012 between incumbent Macky Sall and Khalifa Sall, Wardini joined the Khalifa Sall faction rising through the ranks to become his deputy.
Since its founding in 1857, Dakar has only had one pre-independence mayoress. The almost three million inhabitants of today are experiencing history because Wardini is the first female mayor of the city since Senegal became an independent nation in 1960. A point of interest – Windini is an ex-beauty pageant participant turned mayor.
Abdur Rahman, Alfa Shaban, Africanews.com, 10/1/2018