Democratic Solidarity Africa Calls for Preservation of Democratic Processes in Senegal

March 8, 2024

Forum 2000 Foundation and members of the Democratic Solidarity Africa (DSA) express their solidarity with the people of Senegal, among others with the youth, trade unions, and scholars, fighting daily to preserve a hard-won and enduring democracy, for which Senegal has been known.

For a long time, the international community perceived Senegal as firmly rooted and mature in democratic values and human rights, a model of the rule of law and stability regionally and on the African continent as a whole. However, since President Macky Sall's re-election in 2019, and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of political events have challenged the tradition of democracy in Senegal:

  • The emergence of a new leadership, embodied by the young and popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the presidential election of February 2019, was halted by his imprisonment in July 2023. His detention and incarceration sparked violent protests across Senegal and were followed by the dissolution of his party, the African Patriots for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF). The government also imprisoned over one thousand party members, sympathizers, and civil society activists, for exercising their freedom of opinion or demonstration.
  • On February 3, 2024 the Constitutional Council narrowed the list of candidates from 200 to 20 (and later to 19), due to a perceived corrupt sponsorship or candidacy registration system. The discontent reached its peak that same day, after President Sall annulled the decree convening the electoral college for February 25, 2024, alleging—among other things—that the shorter list of candidates amounted to a “constitutional coup” by the opposition. A parliamentary group, affiliated with the President´s party, also made serious accusations of corruption and conflicts of interest against two judges of the Constitutional Council.
  • On February 16, the same Constitutional Council annulled President Sall's decree and requested, among other things, that a new elections date be set "as soon as possible" by the competent authorities, namely the President of the Republic. President Sall has since called for a national dialogue, which has been rejected by the majority of presidential candidates, civil society organizations, and the opposition.
  • While the date of the new elections has been set (March 24, 2024), the aforementioned actions of President Macky Sall contribute to a growing mistrust among the Senegalese people, mainly over the President´s intentions of not seeking a third term and leaving the office once his term ends (April 2, 2024).

In light of these recent developments, Forum 2000 Foundation and members of the Democratic Solidarity Africa encourage all actors involved in the electoral process to take the necessary measures to consolidate peace, guarantee democracy and free and fair elections in Senegal, and ensure the proper functioning of state institutions, particularly the judiciary.

It is important that we preserve the long-existing tradition of Senegalese political development. Posterity awaits the right decisions in this regard, not only for the sake of the people of Senegal but of Africa at large, who look up to Senegal for the right democratic examples and value-laden inspirations.