Sénégal: Macky Sall Keeps Presidential Election Date in Limbo Amidst Political Tensions

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With no announced election date so far, citizens and other officials remain skeptical about his true motives.(Image Credit: CNN)

In a highly anticipated address to the Senegalese press, President Macky Sall refrains from setting an official date for the presidential election, previously scheduled for February 25. Despite announcing a delay, he assures that his term will conclude as planned on April 2, expressing skepticism about revealing his successor before this date. The announcement follows a two-day dialogue with political and civil society actors, where the election date is expected to be determined.

President Sall urges patience, emphasizing that the date hinges on the arguments presented during the dialogue, leaving the ultimate decision to the Constitutional Council. Despite dispelling rumors of a desire to prolong his leadership, he acknowledges the possibility of the election occurring either before or after April 2, though he deems a pre-April scenario unlikely.

In a surprising move towards reconciliation, President Sall expresses readiness to release opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, incarcerated since July 2023, to foster a peaceful electoral environment. Politicians excluded by the Constitutional Council from the presidential candidate list are also invited to participate in the dialogue. President Sall pledges to issue a decree promptly if a consensus is reached; otherwise, he will involve the Constitutional Council.

While the majority of candidates and civil society stress the need to agree solely on an election date, concerns arise about potential discord in the dialogue, with opposing candidates having different objectives. Constitutional law professor Babacar Gueye notes the challenge of finding consensus between validated candidates seeking a swift election and excluded candidates desiring a restart of the entire electoral process.

The political landscape is marked by impatience, as 16 out of 19 candidates denounce perceived delays in organizing the presidential election. The opposition accuses President Sall of procrastination, demanding an immediate resolution on the election date.

As uncertainty looms, the president’s decision to adhere to the Constitutional Council’s ruling generates historic consequences. The annulment of the law postponing the election to December 15 places the responsibility on authorities to organize the election promptly, ensuring the elected leader takes office by April 3. Constitutional expert Moussa Diaw comments on the council’s competence and emphasizes the need for swift adjustments to meet the tight schedule.

In this political turmoil, the release of prisoners and the anticipation of Saturday’s protests highlight the complex aftermath of the postponed election. President Sall finds himself in a politically isolated position, compelled to comply with the Constitutional Council’s decision and organize the election within the specified timeframe.

Written by Imane Moumen

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