Senegal has long been considered a stable democracy. But there were already unrest in the summer. Now the president is postponing the upcoming election. Diplomats fear new protests.
Just three weeks before the election in Senegal, President Macky Sall has postponed the vote indefinitely. In his announcement about the postponement of the presidential election, which was actually scheduled for February 23rd, Sall referred to investigations that had begun into allegations of corruption in the compilation of the candidate lists. He did not give a new date. A phase of “national dialogue” will be initiated to ensure “free, transparent and inclusive elections,” said Sall.
The Constitutional Council had excluded several candidates for legal reasons, including popular opposition hopefuls such as Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade. Their exclusion had exacerbated domestic political tensions in Senegal. The country, which has a population of 17 million, was previously considered a stable democracy in the West African region, where there have been repeated coups and unrest in recent times.
Protests not ruled out
After the presidential election was postponed, the German embassy in Dakar warned that protests could not be ruled out. Caution was urged. Larger gatherings should be avoided.
At the beginning of June, the worst unrest in decades broke out in Senegal after opposition leader Sonko was sentenced to prison. The opposition accused the head of state of wanting to eliminate his challenger and stay in power. At least 16 people were killed. The military was deployed. Since then, all opposition demonstrations in the capital have been banned.
Afterwards, the president, who has been in power since 2012, announced that he would not run again. Sall reiterated this intention on Saturday, even though there is actually a two-term limit for the president that was passed under him anyway.
Senegal has not experienced war or violent upheaval since its independence in 1960. Sall is the fourth president of the country on the Atlantic coast, which borders the Sahel state of Mali to the east, which is plagued by terrorism and instability.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.