Senegal announces new election date – DW – 03/07/2024

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President Macky Sall’s announcement should get the stalled election process in Senegal back on track. On Thursday, the country’s Constitutional Council said it agreed with the new date, which was in line with the president’s suggestion.

The Constitutional Council had previously ruled that the election must be held before April 2, when Sall’s term in office expires.

According to a document seen by AFP news agency on Wednesday, the committee rejected an alternative date in June. The document also stated that the list of 19 presidential candidates already approved may not be revised.

Protesters run from teargas as smoke fills the air.
Protests against Senegal’s election delay turned violentImage: John Wessels/AFP

Keeping up with the election timetable 

For governance expert and member of the resistance front FIPPU, Mame Diarra Ndiaye Sobel, the presidential elections can be organized within the deadline despite delays.

”If all parties involved want it, it is still possible,” Sobel told DW, stressing that the polls were about saving Senegal’s democracy and stability. “The political players may have to make sacrifices,” Sobel added.

While announcing the election date, Sall dissolved the government and replaced Amadou Ba as prime minister. Sall relieved Ba of his duties so he could concentrate on the presidential election campaign. Sidiki Kaba was named as Ba’s successor.

Democracy prevails

Critics, opposition parties and civic society groups had heavily criticized President Sall’s decision to postpone the elections. They were initially scheduled for February 25 but were pushed to December 15 after a heated parliamentary session. 

The December date would have allowed Sall to remain in office months after his term expired. The opposition described the move as a constitutional coup” and called for protests, which later resulted in several deaths and detentions.

However, the postponement decided by Sall and parliament (which has most of Sall’s supporters) was rejected by the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest electoral authority.

Djibril Gningue, Executive Director of the Platform of Civil Society Actors for the Transparency of Elections in Senegal, is proud of the independence of the Constitutional Council.

“Legally speaking, President Sall has only two options: Either he holds the election before April 2 or stays until April 2 and then steps down,” Gningue told DW.

Senegal's opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, speaks at a rally.
Opposition supporters hope the amnesty law will see Ousmane Sonko released from prisonImage: Seyllou/AFP

Amnesty for political prisoners

Senegal’s parliament on Wednesday also passed a law granting amnesty to political prisoners. All those arrested during protests since 2021 will be released before the next elections.

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Amnesty International estimates that more than 1,000 opposition members and activists have been imprisoned in the past three years under Sall’s rule.

The adoption of this controversial text on the amnesty law should also enable the release of opposition politicians Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye from prison.

Lawyer Alimou Barro, founding member of PASTEF, supports Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s presidential candidacy and is demanding Diomaye’s immediate release.

“He should benefit from the equal opportunities of a declared presidential candidate because he has neither been tried nor convicted,” Barro told DW.


This article was translated from French

Edited by: Chrispin Mwakideu

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