In the run-up to the February 2024 presidential elections in Senegal, the Khalife (spiritual leader) of the Mouride community has imposed a ban on all political activities within the religious city of Touba, situated approximately one hundred kilometers from Dakar. This decision, which carries significant weight in Senegal’s political landscape, is poised to be respected by political figures and candidates alike.
The ban extends beyond traditional political events such as rallies, processions, and campaign gatherings; it now includes a prohibition on political candidates visiting Touba, where they often seek the blessings of the revered spiritual leader.
The spokesperson for the Khalife General of the Mourides, while announcing these measures, stated that the Khalife General is currently occupied with other responsibilities, leaving him unavailable to receive visits from various presidential candidates in the lead-up to the upcoming election. Such visits are traditionally sought after by politicians to secure the spiritual leader’s endorsement.
One of the presidential candidates, Serigne Abdou Mbacké Doli, a native of Touba, acknowledges the city’s unique status. He emphasizes the need for strict adherence to the directives of the guardian of Touba, whose custodianship is rooted in its sacred heritage and is often referred to as “a land title belonging to Serigne Touba.”
It is worth noting that the Khalife had initially hinted at the possibility of forbidding voting within the religious city. However, this decision was later reconsidered a few months before the presidential election to avoid disrupting the electoral process for citizens already registered to vote.
The ban on political activities in Touba, while a significant development in Senegal’s political sphere, underscores the delicate balance between religion and politics in the country. Touba’s status as a center of religious and cultural significance adds complexity to the intersection of spiritual leadership and political dynamics as the nation approaches a crucial electoral milestone. It also serves as a testament to the importance of respecting the wishes of revered spiritual leaders in the Senegalese context.