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July 17, 2024

Senegal in Political Turmoil as President Sall Postpones Election Indefinitely

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Feb 4, 2024

Senegal was thrown into political uncertainty Saturday after President Macky Sall announced the postponement of the February 25 presidential election just hours before the official start of campaigning.

Election Postponement Triggers Backlash

The surprise election delay has triggered fierce backlash from the opposition and civil society groups who accuse Sall of trying to “confiscate power.”

Sall cited the need to ensure transparency and the integrity of candidate lists as the reason for postponing the vote [1]. However, critics see this as an attempt to buy time after the country’s highest court disqualified two prominent opposition candidates earlier this week [2].

Prominent opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from running last month over a conviction for disturbing public order, called the election delay “the latest maneuver of President Sall to cling onto power beyond his two terms” [3]. His supporters took to the streets of Dakar Saturday to protest the decision [4].

Meanwhile, former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall, who was also disqualified by the court on Thursday, vowed to fight the “unjust” ruling [5]. Civil society organizations have also voiced their objections, stating that existing electoral laws do not allow the president to postpone an election unilaterally [6].

Mounting Pressure on President Sall

The election postponement comes amidst mounting pressure on President Macky Sall, who critics accuse of cracking down on dissent and manipulating the judiciary to eliminate key opponents from the presidential race [7][8].

| Election controversies under President Sall | |
|-|-|
| June 2022: Parliament approves new election law requiring presidential candidates to collect 52,000 signatures from at least 7 regions |
| January 2023: Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko convicted of disturbing public order, barred from election |
| January 2023: Former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall imprisoned for fraud, removed from candidate list |
| February 2023: Constitutional council rejects election candidacies of Sonko and Khalifa Sall |
| February 3, 2023: President Sall postpones election indefinitely, citing “transparency issues” |

Sall came to power in 2012 after defeating former president Abdoulaye Wade. He was re-elected in 2019 amid allegations of vote rigging. The Senegalese constitution bars Sall from seeking a third term.

Critics now fear that the president is employing various tactics to either stay in power beyond 2024 or install a successor candidate [9]. The election setback also dents Senegal’s reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

Regional Bodies Express Concern

The election postponement has raised concerns internationally, with the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urging Senegal to set a new date promptly [10].

In a statement Saturday, ECOWAS warned against “any action that could undermine the country’s peace and stability” and called for calm [11]. It also offered to mediate talks between the government and opposition. Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres has dispatched a special envoy to help ease tensions.

Several African leaders have also voiced worries, including Ghana’s president and African Union chair Nana Akufo-Addo who emphasized the importance of holding elections on schedule [12].

What Next for Senegal?

With no new election date set, uncertainty looms over the country’s political future. The opposition has vowed to challenge the postponement at the constitutional council while protests are expected to continue [13].

Experts say the coming weeks could see a prolonged standoff between the ruling party and opposition forces [14]. “Sall is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the opposition that risks sparking instability,” said analyst Abdul Aziz Bensouda.

Much depends on whether the various opposition factions can form a united front against the president [15]. But with key leaders like Ousmane Sonko sidelined, the opposition has found itself significantly weakened.

Ultimately, international pressure could play a key role in pushing President Sall towards compromise and announcing a new election date [16]. But the coming days are likely to test Senegal’s democratic credentials.

References

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-68194644
[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/some-senegalese-opposition-reject-bid-delay-presidential-vote-2024-02-03/
[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/03/world/africa/senegal-president-cancels-election.html
[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/03/senegal-elections-delay-macky-sall/
[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-68194644
[6] https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/04/senegal-president-postpones-election-hours-before-official-campaign-start
[7] https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/some-senegalese-opposition-reject-bid-delay-presidential-vote-2024-02-03/
[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/03/world/africa/senegal-president-cancels-election.html
[9] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-68194644.amp
[10] https://www.barrons.com/amp/news/ecowas-expresses-concern-after-postponement-of-senegal-vote-ca317412
[11] https://www.laprensalatina.com/senegalese-president-postpones-presidential-elections-indefinitely/amp/
[12] https://www.barrons.com/amp/news/ecowas-expresses-concern-after-postponement-of-senegal-vote-ca317412
[13] https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/some-senegalese-opposition-reject-bid-delay-presidential-vote-2024-02-03/
[14] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-68194644.amp
[15] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/03/world/africa/senegal-president-cancels-election.html
[16] https://www.barrons.com/amp/news/ecowas-expresses-concern-after-postponement-of-senegal-vote-ca317412

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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