(Bloomberg) --

Senegal President Macky Sall appointed new ministers for economy and finance after naming the country’s first prime minister in three years, doubling down on efforts to rein in a building cost-of-living crisis.

Oulimata Sarr is replacing Amadou Hott as economy minister. Mamadou Ba, the former general director of the budget, takes over as finance minister from Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, who was named Sall’s chief of staff.

On Saturday, Sall appointed Amadou Ba as prime minister -- a role he had abolished in 2019. Ba previously served as finance as well as foreign minister under Sall.

The moves follow parliamentary elections that Sall’s ruling coalition narrowly won, while losing its absolute majority. The vote was widely seen as a test of the president’s popularity.

Sall, 60, has faced political unrest in the last 18 months that’s also been fed by uncertainty over whether he intends to run for a third term when his mandate expires in 2024. While the Senegalese constitution allows only two terms, Sall, who was elected for seven years in 2012 and re-elected for five years in 2019, has been vague when asked whether he’s considering staying on. 

“I’m not someone who seeks to threaten democracy,” Sall said in a Sept. 6 interview with Bloomberg.

Rising Costs

Sall charged the new cabinet with mitigating the impact of rising food and fuel prices on the back of the war in Ukraine. The government adopted a revised budget in May, including measures to assist the most vulnerable and stabilize food prices on goods consumed by lower and middle-income households.

Those measures will cost about 620 billion CFA francs ($950 million), according to Sall. “My main concern is to do everything possible to make everyday life more bearable for everyone,” he said in a speech on RTS late Friday.  

Efforts to reduce living costs, youth unemployment and easing the impact of climate change that has contributed to deadly floods in the capital Dakar over the summer “remain my top priorities” for the new cabinet, Sall said.

With Sarr he appointed an experienced official. She worked with the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s development arm, based in Kenya, Burundi and South Africa before joining UN Women in Dakar where she most recently was the regional director for West and Central Africa.

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