Senegal’s President Calls Off a National Election. His Critics Call It a Coup.



Senegal’s president has canceled the election for his alternative three weeks earlier than voting was set to happen, saying {that a} dispute between the legislative and judicial arms of presidency over accusations of corruption wanted to be resolved first.

Talking on Saturday afternoon from the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, his phrases live-streamed on his social media platforms, President Macky Sall stated that the dispute between the West African nation’s nationwide meeting and its constitutional court docket had reached a disaster level, and that he was repealing the decree convening the electoral physique, successfully suspending elections.

However his opponents stated he was basically finishing up a coup d’état, and accused him of treason.

“For the primary time in its historical past, Senegal has simply suffered a coup d’état,” Ousmane Diallo, a researcher with Amnesty Worldwide, posted on X.

After the nation’s constitutional council printed lists of permitted candidates for the election, a few of them have been discovered to have been permitted regardless of holding twin nationality, one thing presidential candidates should not allowed in Senegal.

This case, the president stated, “might severely harm the credibility of the election” in a rustic that “can’t afford a brand new disaster.”

Mr. Sall had spent years refusing to confirm whether or not he would strive for a 3rd time period in workplace. Senegal’s Structure limits presidents to 2 consecutive phrases. However in 2016, when Mr. Sall was 4 years into his first time period, voters modified the Structure to scale back phrases to 5 years from seven, which he argued reset the clock, permitting him to run a 3rd time.

However final July, he said he would not run again, and later named the prime minister, Amadou Ba, because the governing occasion candidate for the 2024 election.

He gave no new date for an election in his handle to the nation on Saturday, however stated he was nonetheless dedicated to staying out of the race himself.

“My solemn dedication to not run within the presidential election stays unchanged,” he stated in his live-streamed handle, earlier than the digital camera minimize to pictures of the golden lions outdoors the presidential palace, and the Senegalese flag embossed with the president’s initials fluttered in sluggish movement.

One presidential candidate, Thierno Sall, accused the president of treason.

“Macky Sall is aware of that his candidate, Amadou Ba, can’t win the presidential election,” he stated in a press release. “He’s afraid of the implications of his actions throughout all his years on the head of our nation.”

Senegal has, up to now, been spared the military coups which have just lately hit different former French colonies that neighbor it within the arid Sahel area simply south of the Sahara. However the president’s critics on Saturday accused him of finishing up a constitutional coup.

Just like the international locations now led by juntas, Senegal has skilled a wave of youth discontent, with widespread demonstrations towards a authorities that many see as repressive, out of contact, in cahoots with its former colonizer, France, and unable to create adequate alternatives for younger folks, who dominate the nation demographically.

Many younger Senegalese stated there was an answer to those issues: Ousmane Sonko.

Mr. Sonko, a comparatively younger politician — he’s 49, Macky Sall is 62 — has drawn help by criticizing France, denouncing Senegalese elites and promising to stimulate the economic system and create jobs.

He has variously been charged with calling for riot, with defamation of the nation’s tourism minister and with rape. He was acquitted of rape, however convicted of “corrupting youth” for performing immorally towards the younger therapeutic massage therapist who accused him of raping her.

The fees towards him appeared to solely gas Mr. Sonko’s recognition, sending hundreds into the streets, bashing pots and pans all through the nation in his help and in defiance of the federal government.

Not less than 16 folks have been killed within the demonstrations, in response to Human Rights Watch, and in late July, the federal government dissolved Mr. Sonko’s occasion.

At present in jail, Mr. Sonko named Bassirou Diomaye Faye as his alternative to guide the motion. However Mr. Faye is in detention, too, on costs together with incitement to riot, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be capable to contest the management.


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