Macky Sall leaves the date of the presidential election pending

During a television interview given to the Senegalese press, Senegalese President Macky Sall left pending, Thursday February 22, the date of the presidential election which he had decreed to be postponed, while ensuring that his mandate to the head of the country would end at the expected time.

“On April 2, 2024, my mission ends at the head of Senegal”he said, appearing stung by the suspicion that he might seek to stay in office longer than expected. “As for the date [de la présidentielle]we will see what the dialogue will propose”he added, referring to the meetings he intends to hold on Monday and Tuesday, first with the candidates, then with other political and social actors. “At the end of the dialogue on Tuesday, we must have a date”did he declare.

“The election can be held before or after April 2”, he clarified. Asked about the possibility of it being held between now and April 2, he replied: ” I do not think so “. If the Senegalese cannot go to the polls by April 2, “it will be up to the Constitutional Council to say what must be done”he added.

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Going towards the elections “in a peaceful manner”

Mr. Sall also said he was willing to show clemency towards his former adversaries, and considered the possibility of pardons or an amnesty law. “Yes, I am ready to go this far so that everyone benefits from this pardon and that Senegal moves towards these elections in a peaceful manner”he declared regarding a possible release of Ousmane Sonko, imprisoned since July 2023, while affirming that he was not responsible for the progress of the legal procedures.

Mr. Sonko was disqualified from the presidential election, but the candidacy of his second, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, also detained, was validated by the Constitutional Council. Mr. Faye “can benefit from provisional freedom before these laws to respond to the call for dialogue”specified President Sall who asked, Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice to finalize texts “to materialize the desire for reconciliation and forgiveness”. A prisoner amnesty law was discussed a week ago.

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Several hundred detainees have been released since last week, contributing to a fragile detente. But civil society, which mobilized several thousand people last weekend, planned a new rally on Saturday in Dakar to maintain pressure on those in power, as did the presidential camp to support Mr. Sall.

Unprecedented political crisis

Accused of “bad will” by fifteen candidates in the presidential election in Senegal, the head of state spoke on Thursday to explain himself with a view to the organization of the vote, initially scheduled for February 25 and which he postponed to the beginning of February to December 15. This decision validated by the National Assembly caused an unprecedented political crisis in the country. The opposition denounced a “constitutional coup d’état”, and demonstrations left four dead.

Mr. Sall justified the postponement of the election by the heated quarrels that occurred during the pre-electoral process and said he wanted an indisputable election, worrying about the risk of new bouts of violence after those of 2021 and 2023. The opposition suspects the presidential camp for wanting to come to terms with the calendar for fear of the defeat of its candidate, the Prime Minister, Amadou Ba, designated by President Sall to succeed him

Read also | In Senegal, the opposition front against front

The Constitutional Council last week vetoed this postponement and the continuation of the president in his post until the installation of his successor. He noted the impossibility of maintaining the presidential election on February 25 and asked the authorities to organize it ” as soon as possible “. Despite speculation about the temptation to force a move, Macky Sall expressed his intention on Friday to respect the Council’s decision and to lead “without delaying the necessary consultations” to the organization of the vote.

Wednesday, during the council of ministers, the head of state requested that “all provisions” are taken “for a good organization of the presidential election on a date which will be set very soon, after consultations with political actors, civil society leaders and representatives of the nation’s vital forces”specifies the council report.

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He has “also reaffirmed its commitment to an inclusive process of consultation and dialogue in order to build consensus around national reconciliation, appeasement and pacification of the public space, with a view to consolidating political, economic and social stability ».

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The World with AFP

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