Senegal is in a constitutional crisis following the postponement of its February 25th presidential election, plunging the nation into its worst political turmoil since independence. President Macky Sall’s decision to delay the vote has sparked outrage, particularly among the youth, leading to violent protests and raising concerns about stability in the once-peaceful West African nation.
As part of international efforts to mediate the crisis, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, also serving as chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), embarked on a one-day mission to Dakar to meet with Sall. This follows emergency talks held by ECOWAS foreign ministers in Abuja shortly before.
Sall’s justification for the postponement centers on a dispute between parliament and the Constitutional Council regarding the eligibility of certain candidates. While assuring he won’t seek a third term, his decision to push back the election until early 2025, effectively extending his presidency, has been met with fierce opposition.
Opposition leaders denounce the move as a “constitutional coup” and condemn the violent crackdown on protests. They demand a swift return to the original electoral timetable. Senegal’s parliament, however, has backed Sall’s decision, voting to keep him in office until his successor takes over.
The turmoil highlights deeper questions about ECOWAS’s effectiveness in influencing member states, particularly considering its failed attempt to restore the ousted president in Niger last year. Critics question the bloc’s leverage, especially with the recent withdrawal of three military-led governments from the organization.
Meanwhile, “Protect our Election” campaigners, known as Aar Sunu Election group, are calling for renewed protests on Tuesday, further escalating the tense atmosphere.
Beyond Senegal’s domestic crisis, the situation sparks concerns about the broader regional picture. With West Africa already grappling with coups and unrest, Senegal’s instability carries potential implications for neighboring nations.
The coming days and weeks will be crucial in determining the resolution of this crisis. Whether Senegal can navigate towards peaceful elections and appeasement, or whether the turmoil deepens, remains to be seen. International observers and regional actors will be closely monitoring the situation, urging adherence to democratic principles and a peaceful outcome.