On Monday, the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, put an end to months of stressful uncertainty by announcing that he would not seek a third term in office in the next year. This announcement paved the way for open elections to take place in the West African nation of Senegal, which has been regarded as a beacon of democracy in an otherwise turbulent region.
Up until this point, Sall had maintained a policy of remaining tight-lipped about his aspirations, which stoked anxieties around the possibility that he might use a constitutional reform to claim that he could prolong the country’s usual two-term maximum. In a televised statement, Sall stated, “My dear fellow citizens, my decision after long consideration is to not be a candidate in the election on February 25, 2024.” “Senegal is more than me, and it is full of capable leaders for the country’s development,” he stated. Sall said that he had made the advancement of his nation his top priority, “in particular in a time of social-economic difficulties and uncertainties.”
On the eve of Sall’s address to the country, his most ardent detractor, Ousmane Sonko, had urged the general people to “come out en masse” and oppose Sall. Last month, at least 16 people lost their lives as a result of violent skirmishes that broke out between followers of Sonko and security personnel. Senegal’s reputation as a beacon of stability in West Africa, a region renowned for coups and civil wars, has been tarnished as a result of the unrest that has taken place there.
First elected in 2012 for a term that would last seven years, Sall, 61, was re-elected in 2019 for a term that would last only five years as a result of a constitutional amendment to the presidential tenure. The constitution states that a president may only serve for a maximum of two terms, but Sall’s supporters maintained that the counter had been reset to zero as a result of the revision in 2016.
Sall had earlier fought against a third term by his predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, who was in office from 2000 to 2012, and had declared he would not seek re-election, following the trend of entrenched strongmen presidents on the continent. Abdoulaye Wade had been in power from 2000 to 2012, and Sall had been in power from 2000 to 2012. However, he had not named a political successor, and in the most recent months, he has been evasive about the possibility of running for a second term, which is a position that has fueled tensions.
Sonko is a fiery orator who is well-liked among the disgruntled youth of Senegal. He has portrayed Sall as a would-be dictator who is corrupt. On Sunday, Sonko stated that it was the responsibility of the entire Senegalese population to “stand up and face him.” Ousmane Sonko, the head of the opposition in Senegal, has amassed a significant following among the country’s economically disadvantaged and alienated young people.
On June 1, Sonko was given a sentence of two years in prison for “corrupting” a teenage worker at a beauty salon. This sparked protests that resulted in the deaths of 16 people, according to the government; 24 people were killed, according to Amnesty International; and 30 people were killed, according to Sonko’s party. Because of the conviction, he is disqualified from running for office in 2024.
Sonko claims that the case was fabricated to prevent him from fleeing, but the authorities have denied this claim. Since the 28th of May, he has been unable to leave his residence due to restrictions imposed by the government.
After celebrating the Muslim holiday of Tabaski during the long weekend, residents of the Senegalese capital city of Dakar went back to work on Monday. A vehicle washer named Abdou Diagne, who is 38 years old, made the following statement: “I don’t want him (Sall) to stand again. We have already provided him with 12 years of service; it is now time for him to step down and allow somebody else to assume leadership responsibilities.
During the unrest that occurred a month ago, a grocery store in the Yoff suburb of Dakar was broken into and set on fire. “If he says otherwise, it’s not a given that people will stand by with their arms folded,” Diagne said. “We are praying for peace regardless of the outcome.”