Senegal Election Saga: Will President Macky Sall Give Way For a New Leader?

Senegal's President Macky Sall promises leave office when his term comes to an end on 2 April, but did not state an election date to choose a successor.

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Senegal Election Saga: President Macky Sall Promises to Step Down in April
President Macky Sall Image: John Thys/AP

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has announced his decision to step down when his term ends on April 2. However, he did not state a new date for the presidential election originally scheduled for Sunday, February 25.

In a televised interview on February 22, Sall addressed concerns about his 12-year rule, asserting, “On April 2, 2024, my mission ends at the head of Senegal.” 

He also cited inadequate time to elect a new president before his departure on April 2, proposing that the dialogue forum would determine the course of action in such a scenario.

Despite committing to release opposition figure Ousmane Sonko from prison as a goodwill gesture, President Sall did not specify a new election date, fueling suspicions of a delay tactic.

The opposition rejects participation in the proposed “national dialogue,” with 16 of the 19 presidential hopefuls boycotting the talks.

The postponement, attributed to disputes over the approved candidates’ list, also sparked discontent among Senegalese citizens. Sall’s critics argue that the move aims to prolong his stay in power, prompting protests and clashes in the National Assembly.

The announcement comes amid tensions and protests sparked by the earlier postponement of the presidential election, originally slated for February 25.

Sall, currently en route to an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Nigeria, faced pressure to announce a new date after Senegal’s highest court declared the initial postponement illegal. The move drew international condemnation, raising concerns about the country’s democratic reputation.

The opposition’s rejection of the proposed dialogue further complicates the situation. The international community, including the US Department of State, ECOWAS, and the African Union expresses concerns over Senegal’s departure from its democratic traditions. 

ECOWAS, in a statement, suggested that the postponement might be unconstitutional and called on the political class to take urgent measures to align with the constitution.

“The ECOWAS Commission encourages the political class to urgently take the necessary measures to re-establish the electoral calendar in accordance with the provisions of the constitution”

The African Union also emphasized the need for transparent and peaceful elections, urging a swift resolution to the crisis. 

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