Postponement of Senegal's Presidential Election Heralds 'Era of Uncertainty,' Says Observer
13:19 06.02.2024 (Updated: 13:20 06.02.2024)
On Saturday, Senegal's incumbent President Macky Sall, who says that he is not seeking re-election, postponed the February 25 vote indefinitely, just hours before the official campaign was due to begin. Later on Monday, lawmakers in Senegal's parliament voted to extend Sall's mandate by six months, until December 15.
The announcement of the postponement of the presidential election
is unprecedented and came as a general surprise in Senegal, Alioune Tine, founder of the think tank AfrikaJom Center and former regional director of Amnesty International for West and Central Africa
, told Sputnik
This measure was decided without any consultation with the candidates for the highest office, he pointed out.
"This decision is unconstitutional because the mandate of the President of the Republic cannot be increased or decreased, because this mandate is intangible. For as long as Senegal has existed, for as long as we have held elections [...] we have always respected the deadline for holding presidential elections," the expert recalled. "There has been a real breakdown in the functioning of the institutions, a brutal, serious and grave breakdown. It's a constitutional coup."
Rejection With Sall's Decision
As for society's reaction to Macky Sall's announcement, it is almost unanimous rejection, said Alioune Tine.
There's a lot of tension because practically all public opinion is against this decision
, "whether it's religious leaders, civil society or opposition political parties," he said.
"At the moment, people are outside, confronting the police in the city, who are using tear gas. There are arrests, and we're really worried and concerned about the violence that has started, and we don't know how it's going to end. This opens up an era of uncertainty and chaos in Senegal," concluded the founder of the think tank.
On February 3, Senegal's president announced the postponement of the presidential election, originally scheduled for February 25. The news came just hours before the official start of the campaign, for which 20 candidates had been validated by the Constitutional Council.
Macky Sall promised an "open national dialogue" and reiterated that he did not intend to run for re-election.
Following clashes in Dakar on February 4 and 5, the government decided to suspend mobile Internet
access, citing "hate messages posted on social media."
Late on Monday, media reported that the Senegalese parliament had passed a law postponing the presidential election, scheduled for February 25, to December 15 by presidential decree. According to the media, opposition members of parliament did not participate in the vote.