Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Senegal: the opposition mobilizes against the indefinite postponement of the presidential election

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The president, Macky Sall, announced on Saturday the postponement of the presidential election from February 25, without however setting a new date for the vote.

Agence France-Presse

The opposition in Senegal calls for demonstrations on Sunday in Dakar and plans to launch the electoral campaign as planned, rejecting President Macky Sall's decision to postpone the presidential election from February 25, an unprecedented decision which sparked an outcry .

The announcement made on Saturday in a context of serious political crisis by the president elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019 also caused concern abroad.

It plunges once again into the unknown this country known as an island of stability in Africa, but which has experienced various episodes of deadly unrest since 2021.

Several opposition candidates announced Sunday to the press and on social networks that they will ignore President Sall's decision and maintain the Sunday launch of their electoral campaign.

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We systematically reject the decree [postponing the presidential election]. We are meeting all Senegalese people this Sunday for a march [in Dakar].

A quote from Cheikh Tidiane Youm, a spokesperson for the opposition camp

We met and agreed to gather from 3 p.m. to start our [electoral] campaign collectively, Habib Sy, one of the 20 candidates who were to compete in the postponed vote, told private radio RFM.

All the active forces of the nation must organize, act and obtain the restoration of the Republican calendar, wrote the intellectual Felwine Sarr in a tribune.

Senegalese opponent Khalifa Sall, one of the main presidential candidates, called on the entire country on Saturday to stand up against the postponement of the vote.

Former Prime Minister Aminata Touré denounced on social networks an unprecedented democratic regression and urged democrats and citizens [to] mobilize to defend our democratic achievements.

France called on Senegal on Sunday to remove the uncertainties created by the postponement so that the vote can be held as soon as possible.

The United States United, deeply concerned by the announcement of the postponement, on Saturday urged all participants in the Senegalese electoral process to engage peacefully in the important effort aimed at quickly setting a new date and conditions for ;a free and fair election.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also expressed its concern and asked the authorities in a press release to work to quickly set a new date.

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The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, in Paris on June 23.

President Sall announced on Saturday, a few hours before the official opening of the campaign, to repeal the decree setting the presidential election for February 25.< /p>

This is the first time since 1963 that a presidential election by direct universal suffrage has been postponed in Senegal. Many reactions highlighted the practice of democracy and alternation. Senegal has never experienced a coup d'état, a rarity on the continent, although there have been several in recent years in West Africa.

President Sall cited the conflict that broke out between the Constitutional Council and the National Assembly, after the country's final validation of 20 candidates and the elimination of several dozen others.

At the initiative of Karim Wade, failed candidate who called into question the integrity of two constitutional judges and called for the postponement of the election election, the Assembly approved the creation of a commission of inquiry into the conditions of validation of candidacies.

Against all expectations, the deputies from the presidential camp supported the approach. It provoked a lively dispute over the separation of powers, but also fueled suspicion of a government plan to postpone the presidential election and avoid defeat. The candidate of the presidential camp, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, is contested within his own ranks and faces dissidents.

On the contrary, the anti-system Bassirou Diomaye Faye, whose candidacy is validated by the Constitutional Council although he has been imprisoned since 2023, has established himself in recent weeks as a credible candidate for victory, a nightmare scenario for the presidential camp.

Senegal cannot afford a new crisis, after deadly unrest in March 2021 and June 2023, said the President Sall, announcing a national dialogue for a free, transparent and inclusive election and reiterating his commitment not to be a candidate.

According to the electoral code, a decree setting the date of a new presidential election must be published at the latest 80 days before the election, which would lead to the end of April at best, an almost impossible scenario.

President Sall therefore risks remaining in his post beyond the end of his mandate on April 2.

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