The sociopolitical situation in Senegal has been going from bad to worse since the announcement of the delay of the next presidential elections, which were scheduled for February 25, 2024, without giving an exact date.
Senegal is known to be a beacon of democracy in West Africa. Since the announcement of the indefinite delay of the presidential elections, the country has fallen into unprecedented chaos. This decision has sparked widespread protests across the country, with many accusing President Sall of trying to extend his term in office beyond the two-term limit.
In an exclusive interview, President Macky Sall defended the delay, claiming it was necessary to address controversies surrounding the disqualification of certain candidates, and a conflict between the legislative and judicial branches over electoral rules. He argues that holding elections amidst these uncertainties could lead to further instability. He emphasized his commitment to conducting peaceful and transparent elections but wants to ensure they are “credible and inclusive.”
Opponents, on the other hand, remain skeptical, fearing Sall is manipulating the system to stay in power. They’ve pointed to past attempts by President Sall to reform the constitution to allow a third term and question his commitment to respecting term limits. The delay clearly raises concerns about democratic backsliding in Senegal, a country previously known for its peaceful transitions of power. The protests have turned violent in some instances, highlighting the simmering tensions and potential for further unrest.
Is President Macky Sall subtly turning Senegal into a political dictatorship? Prior to the presidency of Macky Sall, Senegal has always been a democracy. Since he took power in 2012, many political journalists and political scientists have asserted that Senegal was becoming a political dictatorship.
Indeed, one of the main concerns is that President Sall has become increasingly authoritarian. In 2016, he pushed through a constitutional amendment that allowed him to run for a third term in office. He has also been accused of cracking down on the opposition and the media. For example, in 2023, a number of opposition leaders were arrested on what many observers saw as politically motivated charges. Another concern is that Senegal's institutions are becoming weaker. The judiciary, for example, has been accused of being biased in favor of the government. The media is also under increasing pressure, with a number of independent outlets being shut down or harassed.
Over the years spent in power, President Macky Sall demonstrated that he was a Machiavellian political leader with autocratic tendencies. While it is a stretch to claim that Senegal has become a dictatorship, it must be said, on the other hand, that it is not far from becoming one if the elections remain indefinitely postponed.