The President of Senegal renounces his re-election and "defuses" the bomb of social tension

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A sense of relief swept through Senegal. The country's president, Macky Sall, announced Monday night in a speech to the nation on national television and radio that he will not stand in the February 2024 elections.

The surprising words of the Senegalese leader - it is the first time that a president has organized an election without running for re-election - were the first step towards calm after months of protests and social tension, which led to one of the worst outbreaks of violence in recent years. recent years in the African country, with at least twenty deaths at the hands of the police, hundreds of injuries and arrests, or the looting and looting of dozens of public buildings, gas stations and French interests.

A huge bomb has just been defused with this historic decision. Its impact is regional and global


Alioune TineDirector of the Afrikajom think tank

The founder and director of the think tank Centro Afrikajom, Alioune Tine, condensed the feelings of many Senegalese minutes after finishing the speech by the Senegalese head of state.

“A huge bomb has just been defused with this historic decision. Its impact is regional and global. Now it must continue working to reinforce peace and stability.”

DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST POWER

Political discontent led to protests with around twenty deaths, hundreds of injuries and scenes of looting and destruction.

The possibility that Sall, at the head of the nation since 2012, could opt for a third term, an extreme prohibited by the Senegalese constitution that limits five-year terms in power to two, had triggered tension in the country.

Last night, Sall wanted to make it clear that his step aside is a gesture in favor of social peace, but that the law protected him, since the change in the Magna Carta to limit presidential terms to two had no retroactive effect and was carried out in 2016, therefore his first presidential five-year period should not be counted. "My decision, long and maturely reflected, is not to be a candidate in the next elections... although the Constitution gives me the right," he stressed.


Security forces confront supporters of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko in the streets of Dakar on June 3.

ZOHRA BENSEMRA / Reuters

Although Sall had said on several occasions that this would be his last term, rumors that he had changed his mind had gripped a very young Senegalese society for months, disenchanted by the economic crisis and rampant unemployment.

Sall puffed out his chest yesterday. "I have a code of honor and a sense of responsibility that push me to preserve my dignity and my word (...) Senegal goes beyond me and is full of leaders capable of pushing the country forward and overcoming emergencies."

STEP TO THE SIDE WITH MESSAGE

Senegal changed the Magna Carta in 2016 to limit presidential terms to two, but yesterday Sall said he would have had the right to run

Beyond Sall's political aspirations, at the center of social tension is also the two-year prison sentence for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, very popular among young people and the diaspora for his pan-African, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist discourse, for a strange crime of "corruption of young people", which de facto served to prevent his candidacy for the 2024 elections.

From the side of the young politician, a shameless plot was denounced to derail his aspirations to be president. The case is an inheritance in addition to the rape complaint that a young employee of a massage parlor launched in 2021 about Sonko.

LEADER WITH REVOLUTIONARY SPEECH

It remains to be seen if Sall's resignation is enough for the followers of Ousmane Sonko, very popular among young people

Although the court acquitted the opposition leader for lack of evidence, the forced turn to accuse him of "attacking morality and facilitating debauchery" of the young woman was for his faithful an obvious sign that the objective was to get the popular ex out of the way. Treasury official and current mayor of Ziguinchor, capital of the southern Casamance region.

Although he did not expressly quote him, Sall referred to Sonko's calls for chaos, who hours before his speech had called on the youth to take to the streets "to end the fight."

SALL CRITICIZED THE VIOLENCE

Hours before the president's speech, the opposition Sonko had called to go out into the streets to "end the fight"

"The disastrous objective of the instigators - Sall pointed out - was clear: to sow terror in the country". The president even called the protesters "organized crime against the Senegalese nation" and part of an "insurrectionary machine."

The signs of recognition of Sall's political maturity multiplied from the end of the speech. The musician Youssou N'dour and one of the most popular people in Senegal, publicly applauded him.

“A President of the Republic who will organize, without participating, the election of his successor, occurs for the first time in our common history. You are a very great president and you will remain in memory as an incomparable head of state. You have honored your people and all of Africa.”

You are a very great president and you will remain in memory as an incomparable head of state. You have honored your people and all of Africa.”


Youssou N'dourSenegalese musician and businessman

The reactions were not confined solely to the Senegalese borders. The echo spread throughout the region.

The former president of Niger between 2011 and 2021, Issoufou Mahamadou, welcomed his former colleague's decision, which he described as "proof of great political intelligence." "In this way," he added, "Senegal continues to be the bearer of the torch whose flame illuminates our continent."

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