France calls for Senegal to vote ‘as soon as possible

Home International France calls for Senegal to vote ‘as soon as possible
France calls for Senegal to vote ‘as soon as possible

PARIS – Senegal should end “uncertainty” created by president Macky Sall’s announcement that an election scheduled for 25 February would be postponed indefinitely, France said yesterday, calling for a vote “as soon as possible”.

“We call on authorities to end the uncertainty about the electoral calendar so that the vote can be held as soon as possible, under the rules of Senegalese democracy,” Paris’ foreign ministry said in a statement as
Senegal’s political crisis deepens.

Just hours before official campaigning was due to start
yesterday, Senegal’s president Sall announced the indefinite postponement of a presidential election, provoking anger from opposition figures and a ministerial resignation. In an address to the nation Saturday, Sall said he had postponed the vote which would have decided his successor because of a dispute between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court over the rejection of candidates.

Lawmakers are investigating two Constitutional Council judges whose integrity in the election process has been questioned.

“I will begin an open national dialogue to bring together the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election,” Sall added, without giving a new date. Under the country’s election code, at least 80 days must pass between the publication of the decree setting the date and the election, so the earliest a vote could now be held is late April. Just hours after Sall’s announcement, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, the secretary general of the government who has acted as its spokesman, announced his resignation.

He was quitting because he wanted to have “full and complete freedom” to defend his political convictions, Coulibaly said in a statement. This is the first time a Senegalese presidential election has been postponed, and
adds to the growing political tension in the country.

The West African bloc ECOWAS expressed “concern over the circumstances that have led to the postponement of the elections”, calling late Saturday in a post on social media platform X for dialogue and an expedited process to set a new date.

The US State Department also urged Senegal to “swiftly” set a date for a “timely, free and fair election” in a post on X.

“We acknowledge allegations of irregularities, but we are deeply concerned about the disruption to the presidential electoral calendar,” the department’s Bureau of African Affairs posted.

A November 2023 decree signed by Sall had set the election for 25 February, with 20 candidates in the running, but two major opposition figures
excluded. Sall reiterated Saturday that he would not be a candidate.

But one opposition leader, Thierno Alassane Sall, denounced what he called “high treason towards the Republic” in a post on X, and called on “patriots and republicans” to oppose it.

El Malick Ndiaye, former spokesman of a disbanded opposition party once led by the now-jailed Ousmane Sonko, also denounced the decision. “This is not a delay of the election, but a cancellation, pure and simple,” he wrote on Facebook.

Another opposition figure, former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, called for pro-democratic forces to unite against the decision. “All of Senegal must stand up,” he told journalists. “All democratic political forces and civil society should unite so that this project does not succeed.”
– Nampa/AFP