The opposition in Senegal is demanding a presidential election before the end of Macky Sall's mandate.

While the "national dialogue" desired by the Senegalese president recommended the organization of the first round of voting on June 2, several hundred demonstrators demanded on Saturday March 2 in Dakar that it be held before April 2 during a rally at the call from civil society and the opposition.

Senegal has been plunged into a serious political crisis since the postponement, on February 3, by the head of state, of the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25.

This postponement, denounced as a "constitutional coup d'état" by the opposition, caused a commotion in public opinion and demonstrations which left four dead.

The Constitutional Council finally overturned Macky Sall, and the country has since been waiting for a new election date.

At the call of the "Resistance Front", a union of civil society and opposition organizations sealed on Thursday, several hundred people gathered on a vast sandy ground in a working-class district of the Senegalese capital. .

Many of them wore the colors of Senegal and brandished portraits of the opponent Ousmane Sonko, detained since the end of July for "calling for insurrection" and deprived of the presidential election after the invalidation of his candidacy.

He gave his support for the election to Bassirou Diomaye Faye, also detained but whose candidacy was accepted.

“May Senegalese democracy continue to shine”

“We want an election before April 2 with the 19 candidates selected by the Constitutional Council and for Senegalese democracy to continue to shine,” explained Assane Camara, a 27-year-old trader.

“Macky Sall dictator”, “Free Sonko”, chanted the demonstrators, who repeatedly sang a song in honor of the latter, “Sonko namenaaalaa” (“We miss you Sonko”, in Ouolof).

Several officials representing candidates in the election addressed the crowd.

“What we are asking President Macky Sall is to organize the elections before April 2 and to give the keys to the palace to his successor face to face, and so that we can begin to rebuild our country,” declared Aminata Touré, former Prime Minister and member of the “Bassirou President” coalition.

A national dialogue, organized at the start of the week by the president and boycotted by the opposition, notably recommended organizing the election on June 2.

The Head of State indicated that he would refer these recommendations “for opinion” to the Constitutional Council.

Brief clashes between supporters of Ousmane Sonko and Khalifa Sall

The rally in Dakar, which had been authorized by the authorities, ended in confusion when clashes briefly pitted suspected supporters of candidates Ousmane Sonko and Khalifa Sall against each other.

A dispute has opposed the supporters of the two men since Khalifa Sall, ex-mayor of Dakar, accepted in May 2023 a dialogue with President Macky Sall at the end of which Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall, two opposition figures, regained their eligibility after the adoption of a reform of the electoral code. 

Ousmane Sonko, who had concluded an electoral alliance with Khalifa Sall in 2021, had vigorously refused to participate in this dialogue which he considered as a maneuver by the government to divide the opposition.

The presidential majority camp also called for a “peace march” on Sunday morning in Dakar.

With AFP

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