In Senegal, political crisis risks as two camps vie for victory in legislative elections

If numbers are lacking, faces, movements and attitudes can be used as clues. Sunday, July 31, around 10 pm, while the results of the legislative elections held that day were played in the polling station by the polling station on radio stations in Senegal, laughter and hugs could be seen in the headquarters of the opposition. “The region of Dakar is folded. Thies and Ziguinchor too. Saint-Louis is favorable. We attacked all the towns of the country and the diaspora,” an executive of Yewwi Askan Wi (YAW, “liberation of the people”), the main opposition coalition, focused on its “anti-fraud platform”, where the results of polls are compiled in real time.

Also read: Legislative in Senegal: the president’s camp claims victory, the opposition fights

The change of 165 seats in the National Assembly is at stake for this last election attempt before the presidential election, scheduled for February 2024. “Ooh, I can’t breathe, it’s too much for me”, laughed a curvaceous little woman, when the procession of Barthélémy Dias, the new mayor of Dakar who was elected last January, arrived, ready to parade through the streets of the Senegalese capital, that he will also remain a deputy … This time elected under the colors of the opposition.

Here, everyone has only one word in their mouth, “roommate”, and its consequences: the end of the supposed ambitions of President Macky Sall to run for a third term at the head of Senegal, where the main interested party remains unclear. “Let’s appoint the Prime Minister, the government and maybe leave some sovereign ministries to Macky. In any case, he can start packing his suitcase. Now let’s celebrate in the streets before everyone else! », said Momar Thiam, a YAW executive.

smile forced

A few kilometers away, the main headquarters of Benno Bokk Yakaar, (BBY, “united for the same hope”), the movement of power, looks like an ocean liner at the terminal of a rather sad cruise. Smiles are required, reporters are a little less welcome. Aminata “Mimi” Touré, the leader of the list beaten at her polling station in Kaolack, was not victorious. “So far, it’s not too bad,” briefly dropped the former prime minister who led the BBY campaign before joining a new meeting room. “We are in the lead, even though we are no longer in the days of Soviet marks”, swore to a source who identified himself as “unauthorized”. The representative and lawyer El Hadji Diouf, especially known for defending tooth and nail the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré during his trial in Senegal, pleaded in front of the entrance of the building. “That we will lose in Dakar, it is not a surprise but you will see the return when the campaign votes come”, committed to one whose last famous client was none other than Adji Sarr, the young masseuse who accused the most pious and popular opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, of “rapes and death threats”. From the road some mocking horns sounded.

Then, as the night settled well over Dakar, BBY called a press conference and joined the positioning battle. “We won thirty out of forty-six departments. It certainly gives us the most. Our victory has no appeal. proclaimed in front of the cameras “Mimi” Touré, which many saw on the perch after the vote. Inevitably, his declaration inflamed the spirit of opponents.

“power of the bay”

“vulgar lie” Barthélémy Dias then responded to the private radio RFM. “Cohabitation is inevitable. You lost this election at the national level. (…) This loss will not pass”, he promised. A press release from “leadership conference” in YAW will follow to get the particular ” national and international opinion against any attempt to manipulate the results”. This one is calling “also all the Senegalese who will stand up for ensuring the victory of the people”.

The election game shows a post-election crisis. In Senegal, elections are never without incident but, for more than twenty years and the recognition of President Abdou Diouf in his defeat against the opponent Abdoulaye Wade, an unwritten tradition is that the loser can recognize in his defeat at night, even to vote. He apparently lived.

Also read: Legislative elections in Senegal: inflation, a central topic

Late Monday afternoon, one of the leaders of YAW, the former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, estimated that the “Victory is not, no doubt” in front of “power of the bay. » According to the calculations presented by one of his lieutenants, Déthié Fall, the intercoalition formed by the movement grouped around former President Abdoulaye Wade will be taken. “when we talked to you” 83 deputies, or the majority of 165 seats. Another opposition leader then came forward to deliver a direct message to “ these Westerners who do not stop praising this president because he promised them contracts (…) The Senegalese people no longer want this president! (…) It is time for them to realize this! »

“A victory for the opposition”

On the BBY side, Pape Mahawa Diouf recognized “a victory for the opposition”, but the head of communications for the ruling coalition insisted: “We have at least 83 representatives and will remain in the majority “.

“This is the worst scenario, when everyone announces their victory and refuses the idea of ​​their defeat”analyzed a diplomat immediately, predicting the rapid entry into the game of religious dignitaries and local notables to find a solution. “If people go out at this time, they may never come back,” according to this source.

Regardless of the outcome of these legislative elections, a narrow victory in power or a stay that will oblige him to appoint a government against him, Macky Sall appears today to be the first to lose in legislative elections. “There is a real risk that he will be paralyzed throughout the end of his mandate”, warned a local observer. Regarding the prospect of a candidacy for a third term, contrary to the spirit of the constitution, and with a very flammable potential, it never seems to be compromised.

The provisional official results, then the final ones proclaimed by the Constitutional Council, are expected at the end of the week.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers In Senegal, legislative elections have opened political battles

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