Senegal's 2024 election crisis points to deeper problems with Macky Sall and his preferred successor

The Senegalese president's botched attempt Macky Sall To move The presidential election has created unnecessary tension in an already tense electoral process. The move reflected deeper governance problems within the country.

Sall's decreeafterward canceled by the Constitutional Councilwas the newest in a series of presidency interventions that went beyond the scope of executive authority. These included the disqualification of key opposition candidates, the manipulation of court cases and the arbitrary detention of dissidents.

Sall's twelve-year term in office was marked by contradictions. His government boosted investment in transport and concrete infrastructure. In particular he worked on the Highway networkthe brand new Diass International Airport, the expansion of vital roads and the completion of public transport projects.

But these investments didn’t result in an improvement within the lives of the Senegalese. Thousands of young persons are still carrying on dangerous journeys to Europe because they’ve lost hope of realizing their potential in their very own country.

This is the background to his try and postpone the elections with a view to ensure a successful strategy for his camp. His appointed successor, Amadou Bastays a controversial figure throughout the ruling Alliance for the Republican Party.

I actually have a research interest in state formation in West Africa. Since I have argued In my work, states maintain themselves by producing and alienating internal “others”. This refers to a scenario by which governments assert their sovereignty not against external forces, but relatively against internal cultural groups and existing governing logics. Sall's governing style follows exactly this pattern.

Crisis inside his party

Sall said He postponed the elections due to an alleged conflict between parliament and the Constitutional Council. Parliament had approved the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the means of validating presidential candidacies by the Constitutional Council.

Sall actually clung to it an accusation the corruption allegations made by Karim Wade against two judges of the Constitutional Council after Karim was excluded from running because of his dual citizenship.

The most plausible reason, nonetheless, was a crisis throughout the ruling camp. The Alliance for the Republic is a divided party that’s going into the elections in a disorderly manner. Sall's chosen successor, Ba, generated little enthusiasm amongst voters. It symbolizes the established order. As a wealthy candidate, Ba faces the difficult task of convincing an impoverished electorate that he’s as much as the duty.

Sall exceeded his constitutional authority. The Senegalese Limitation of the Constitution The length of the President's term can’t be modified. Next, in response to the Electoral law, the decree setting a date for the presidential election should be published no later than 80 days before the scheduled vote. Sall postponed the election just 12 hours before the campaign began, and 22 days before the vote.

Sall's try and postpone the elections has created a climate of distrust within the integrity of the electoral process and plunged Senegal right into a serious constitutional crisis. His decree raised two vital questions:

Erosion of a democratic tradition

Since 2021, a series of protests and unrest have pitted Ousmane Sonko, a key opposition politician facing rape allegations, and his supporters against a government accused of manipulating the judiciary to thwart a serious candidate. This resulted in a big disruption to the economy. Every day of protests causes an estimated Loss of $33 million in economic performance.

Furthermore, Sall has deployed security and defense forces to ascertain an order of fear. He has taken brutal measures against opposition figures and dissenting voices in civil society through arbitrary arrests and criminal prosecutions. His government has systematically restricted Freedom of assembly was restricted, protests were banned, independent media was suppressed and public resources were mobilized to strengthen the ruling party.

For all of those reasons, Senegal has experienced an erosion of institutions designed to uphold the rule of law, promote political participation and ensure public accountability.

Sall was elected 2012 after a turbulent period under the flamboyant government of President Abdoulaye Wade. Sall owes his entire political profession to Wade's patronage. But their relationship soured when it emerged that Sall harbored ambitions to challenge Wade's son. Karimwho was being prepared as his father's successor.

Sall promised virtuous and frugal governance. But the general public euphoria soon faded when scandals broke out involving cabinet ministers and… close relations exposed the corruption throughout the administration.

In 2023, amid much excitement over the validity of a 3rd term, Sall gave in to public pressure violent protests. These led to the worst political crisis because the Nineteen Sixties, which claimed over 60 lives and led to… arrest by over 1,000 people.

Where to go for Senegal?

In accordance with the Decision of the Constitutional CouncilSall finally agreed to arrange elections before leaving.

As Election Day, March 24, approaches, the absence of key candidates and uncertainties surrounding voting procedures create a level of unpredictability.

Furthermore, the lack of trust is so great that the Senegalese public still doubts Sall's commitment to meet his obligations and facilitate an orderly handover.

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