Senegal Presidential Hopefuls Decry Delay in Setting New Election Date

Thu Feb 22 2024
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DAKAR, Senegal: Fifteen candidates in Senegal’s postponed presidential election have accused President Macky Sall of “ill will” and vowed to take steps to ensure a new vote date is quickly set.

The announcement came after civil society group Aar Sunu Election (Protect Our Elections) said it had organized a new rally on Saturday.

The collective is demanding that the election be held before Sall officially expires on April 2.

It says the vote – originally scheduled for February 25 – must take place by March 3 at the latest.

“An inexplicable slowness has been noted. Nothing has been done” despite developments over the past week, the 15 candidates said in a joint statement released late Tuesday.

“Everything is moving at the pace of President Macky Sall’s ill will,” the statement read further.

The 15 signatories include former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sal and jailed opposition candidate Bashiro Diomai Diacar Fay, whose name was added by his representative.

Fey represents Usman Sonko, a dissident who is also in prison.

Sonko’s party said national youth coordinator Gagne Demba Toure was arrested at his home on Wednesday, three days after returning from Mali, where he had fled for fear of arrest in Senegal.

The movement demanded the immediate release of Mr. Toure.

President Sal’s last-minute delay in Sunday’s vote plunged the traditionally stable West African nation into its worst political crisis in decades and sparked violence that left four dead.

Opposition parties condemned Sal’s move as an “illegal coup” and said his party feared an election defeat for its candidate, Prime Minister Amadou Ba.

The current president has repeatedly stated that he will not seek re-election for a third term.

Presidential Spokesperson Yolo Dia said on Wednesday that he is scheduled to give interviews to three Senegalese media on Thursday evening.

Last week, Senegal’s Constitutional Council lifted the postponement of the vote, and Mr Sal was to continue in office until a successor was appointed.

The Council said it was “impossible to organise the presidential election on the initially scheduled date” but invited “the competent authorities to hold it as soon as possible”.

But the question of when this will happen remains open.

The 15 candidates said the election process should have been restarted and accused Sal of neglecting his duty to organize the election.

The 15 are among the 19 names included in the Constitutional Council’s updated list of hopefuls for the presidency.

Senegal’s international partners had expressed concern about the political turmoil in the country.

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