The shadow of the 2024 presidential election is hanging over Senegal. No less than seven million voters will have an appointment at their polling station, Sunday, July 31, to choose their future deputies. The ballot, in one round, aims to change over the next five years the 165 seats in the National Assembly, currently mostly controlled by the presidential party. And is it possible, according to the opposition, to push President Macky Sall who wants to run for a third term if there is a victory in his camp.
“The 2024 elections are all in this campaign for the legislative elections, in the presidential camp as well as in the opposition. This is a life-size test of the state of political forces in the country, especially the ballot took place in the context of significant changes in the politico-religious field in Senegal.analyzes Bakary Sambe, director of the Senegalese think tank Timbuktu Institute.
To the third candidacy?
Nineteen months before the presidential election, the opposition wants to use the legislative election to impose cohabitation on the head of state and push him to give any indication of a new candidacy. Many observers have accused Macky Sall, who was elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, of wanting to run for a third term – as did the Ivorian Alassane Ouattara and former Guinean President Alpha Condé before him, were brutally ousted in September in a military coup.
Interviewed at the end of May in the magazine Young Africa of his ambitions, Macky Sall, who is also the current president of the African Union, once again leaves room for doubt: “I will answer this question after the legislative elections. It’s time to set the course for 2024.” A constitutional amendment approved in 2016, however, limits the number of presidential terms to two in this country, which is a democratic example in West Africa. However, voices suggest that this reform may reset the counters to zero.
These legislative elections have a test value for the presidential party, which is already weakened by an electoral failure during the municipal elections in March. The opposition emerged victorious in several major strategic localities such as Dakar, the capital, and Ziguinchor, the largest city in the south of the country. “If Macky Sall loses [les législatives]he won’t talk about a third term”assured Ousmane Sonko, who heads the main opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi.
The latter has allied itself with Wallu Senegal (Save Senegal), formed around former president Abdoulaye Wade, 96. The agreement signed between the two coalitions provides that the less well-placed two of one department works to support another. With a specific goal: to take advantage of the opportunities to get a parliamentary majority. An unthinkable prospect for the Head of State: “The opposition wants to live together? You know very well that, even in developed countries, this success is rare. I can’t imagine such a scenario in Senegal. We are under a presidential regime: we elect a president and we give him, little by little, the majority to govern.he said Young Africa.
Many observers have criticized a democratic decline in Senegal. The Constitutional Council dashed the hopes of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition in June by invalidating the national list of incumbents and effectively eliminating opposition leaders such as Ousmane Sonko, who were present throughout the campaign. . A controversial decision that led to a fight on June 17 in the capital and Casamance. The demonstrations, which were not authorized by the government, killed three people and left many injured. In March 2021, the arrest of Ousmane Sonko, following accusations of rape, had already sparked deadly violence in the capital.
Another issue in this election: the mobilization of young people, who represent 75% of the Senegalese population and who the candidates must convince to go to the polls, in a context of rising prices linked to consequences of the war in Ukraine.