Senegal: Presidential Elections – When, How, and With Whom?

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
5 Min Read

People may gain further insight this Thursday evening starting at 7:00 PM local time, with President Macky Sall‘s press conference where he will address the media: a face-to-face encounter broadcast live by RTS.

“WalfQuotidien” exclaimed, “A feared face-to-face, where every word will carry weight in a context where the list of deaths, following the demonstrations against the postponement of the presidential election, has lengthened with the death of Prosper Clédor Senghor, a student at Gaston Berger University who succumbed yesterday to his injuries at the main hospital in Dakar.” President Sall’s statement comes at a critical moment when he is expected to provide a firm date for the presidential election. Regarding this issue, Civil Society has already taken the lead by proposing the date of March 3rd, while the new platform Aar sunu élections (protecting our election) suggests March 10th.”

Meanwhile, “Macky Sall still maintains ambiguity,” noted “WalfQuotidien.” In yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Macky Sall instructed his Interior Minister to set a date “very soon.”

Democratic Dysfunction?

“Will he still deceive us by playing hide-and-seek?” questioned the newspaper “24 Heures.” The people have been under constant stress since the announcement that disrupted the decree summoning the electoral body for February 25th. Senegalese citizens are facing particularly unpredictable storms that have already claimed four lives and pressure from technical and financial partners who are watching the country like a hawk.

The alert is red, warns “24 Heures,” and the President of the Republic, let alone his political family, must not turn a blind eye. No one should push him to scorn the decision of the Constitutional Council in favor of a group unwilling to relinquish power. All this suffering experienced by the population stems from the feeling that they are tired of an unjust and asymmetrical political and social system,” the Dakar-based newspaper concluded. “Our democratic model is not functioning well. Let us not be mistaken!”

Easing Tensions?

In the meantime, there is a certain relaxation, with a wave of releases of political prisoners. Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko could be among them.

As noted by “Le Monde Afrique”: “Following a directive from the head of state to his government ‘to pacify the public space,’ nearly 350 detainees, mostly sympathizers of Ousmane Sonko arrested during the protests of March 2021 and June 2023, have been granted provisional release. ‘We are moving towards de-escalation, towards easing political and social tensions,’ said Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall the day before yesterday, not ruling out that Ousmane Sonko and his deputy, Bassirou Diomaye Faye – whose candidacy for the presidency was validated despite his incarceration – may also be released.”

Compromise or Compromise?

So, are we heading towards an agreement between Macky Sall and Ousmane Sonko? “Both men have objective reasons to make peace,” asserts “Le Pays” in Burkina Faso. “For President Sall of Senegal, an agreement with the leader of the former Pastef, whose mobilization and nuisance capabilities he knows well, could pave the way for political collaboration in the event of a victory for either camp in the presidential election. As for Ousmane, it is primarily about being rehabilitated in his civil and political rights. It is known that, by royal decree, Macky Sall holds the keys that can open the doors to Ousmane Sonko’s participation in the presidential election. All in all, there is room for dynamic compromises between the two men.”

However, “in recent years,” “Le Monde Afrique” tempers, “consultations with the government have often been perilous for the opposition, as they could be perceived as evidence of compromise by a part of public opinion and the opposition. For now, the leaders of the former Pastef cite a ‘lack of information and access to Sonko,’ or a debate ‘not on the agenda’ within the party, but they also insist that they have never been opposed to a dialogue with the government.”

Soukaina Sghir

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