The race for endorsements for the 2024 presidential election is in full swing. However, over the weekend, several opposition candidates were apprehended by the police during their campaign activities. Campaign teams and civil society organizations have vehemently denounced what they perceive as harassment.
On Saturday, for over five hours, the convoy of candidate Khalifa Sall’s team was halted by law enforcement in the Fatick region. The reason? Their caravan, consisting of around thirty vehicles, had not obtained the necessary authorization.
Saliou Sarr, representing Khalifa Sall’s Taxawu party, condemned the arbitrary decision. He stated, “We had no sound systems, were not obstructing public roads… We were not in violation of any laws. We were heading to a village to collect endorsements.”
Ultimately, the vehicles managed to find a way to continue their journey at around 7 PM. In videos circulated on social media over the weekend, another candidate, Malick Gakou from the major political party, was also detained by the police in Kébémer.
“People Will Contest”
Alioune Tine, from the think-tank Afrikajom, points out that opposition candidates are being targeted while the incumbent Prime Minister and candidate of the ruling coalition, Amadou Ba, is concurrently touring the northern regions of the country. “They will use the pretext that the election campaign has not officially begun, but if it hasn’t, it should apply equally to everyone,” he argues.
Tine emphasizes that “a Prime Minister running for the presidency can move around, while other candidates are hindered from doing so. No! Even if Amadou Ba wins legitimately, people will contest, and this will lead to problems.” He suggests that Amadou Ba should step down from his position as Prime Minister to conduct his campaign on a level playing field.
This recent spate of arrests and interruptions in opposition campaign activities has raised concerns about fairness and transparency in the upcoming election. As the political landscape in Senegal heats up, the question of equal treatment for all candidates becomes increasingly critical to ensure the credibility of the democratic process.