The Constitutional Council revokes the postponement of the presidential election, plunging the country into the unknown

Senegalese President Macky Sale in Dakar on February 9, 2024.

The decision is an abhorrent rejection of Senegalese power. On Thursday, February 15, the Constitutional Council invalidated the postponement of the presidential election until December 15, plunging the country into further uncertainty. Seized by several members of the opposition and as many as ten candidates for the top post, the body declared “Unconstitutional” Legislation to postpone the February 25 vote for ten months and to retain President Mackey Sale in office beyond the end of his term.

Although it also annulled the presidential decree which, in effect, changed the election calendar, the body did not set a new date for the polls. Given the delay in the process, he limited himself to noting “Impossibility of organizing the presidential election on the date initially planned” From 25 February and “Invites the competent authorities to hold as soon as possible”.

Announced by President Mackie Sale on 3 February and ratified by deputies two days later during a tumultuous session in which elected opposition representatives were expelled from the National Assembly, the decision to postpone the election caused a political earthquake in a country where President Azadi Then the deadline has always been respected.

But listen Senegal: After postponement of presidential election, is democracy at risk?

Seized by opponents who consider this change in the calendar unconstitutional, the Constitutional Council was particularly expected, even though Senegal’s head of state was not committed to following its opinion. “When the decision is made, I will be able to say what I will do”, he revealed to the Associated Press Agency on February 9. Some leaders of the presidential movement believe that members of the council do not have the right to control constitutional law. An interpretation that the seven sages themselves challenged “enabled” To rule on the legitimacy of texts.

Judges suspected of corruption

Yet the jurisdiction finds itself in an uneasy position, to say the least. While maintaining impartiality, she is accused of influencing the electoral process. Two of the seven judges who make up the council were accused of corruption by the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), after its candidate, Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade (2000–2012), withdrew from the election race. Presidential election. The latter was disqualified for not having renounced his French nationality in time, the constitution requiring any candidate for the highest office to be only Senegalese.

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The PDS then formed a commission of inquiry in the National Assembly, indicting the movement’s presidential candidate, the Prime Minister, Amadou Ba. “used their power to rig elections and eliminate candidates”.

“Proof that we are in a state of law”

“The Constitutional Council had no other option to purify its honourOpposition deputy Thierno Alasan Sal reacted. Kareem Wade was ejected from the game for perjury (on his French nationality) And his party is the one accusing judges of corruption? It was a dire situation. »

The PDS, for its part, did not want to answer questions from the world. “At least we have proof that we are under the rule of law. No one will dare to question the independence of justice anymore.”Welcomes the source of the President.

The Constitutional Council’s decision calls into question the negotiations that began in recent days, thanks to the mediation of Macky Sall and the former Pastef (African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity), responsible for bringing together Ousmane Sonko’s party. , which was dissolved in July 2023.

Mediate for a way out of the crisis

Three main issues are at the center of the debate: the participation of opposition officials in the national dialogue desired by the head of state, the date of the presidential election and the withdrawal date of Mackie Saul, whose mandate should expire on April. 2, of the Presidency of the Republic.

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A few hours before the publication of the decision of the Constitutional Council, the gradual release of many so-called political detainees began. Among them, opposition figures such as Aliou Sane, coordinator of the Yen a Marre movement and the civil society platform F24.

“All my clients have benefited from automatic provisional release at the initiative of the public prosecutor”M assuresE Moussa sir. Legal proceedings will still take their course, the lawyer added. “Release of detainees is a unilateral decision not the result of negotiations”, affirms, clearly, Amadou Ba, ex-Pastefna. For now, neither of the country’s two most prominent political detainees, Osman Sonko and his right-hand man, Basirou Dimaye Faye, have been released. In recent days, the possibility of a pardon was on the table.

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“All for that!” »Condemns a Western diplomat, who explains that Westerners were united in trying to persuade Mackie Sale to step down before April 2. “We had a pressure tactic. Mackie Sal is eager to leave with the reputation of a great man. His goal is to occupy Africa’s seat in the G20 and one day become the Secretary General of the UN. All this will become unthinkable if he remains in power.That explains.

Senegalese Power “Nails by sight”

The international community has expressed concern over the deterioration of the situation in Senegal. Presidential election postponed cannot be considered legitimate”specifically responded In a press release on February 8, the US State Department. Ensuring that the decision to postpone voting is taken “was not premeditated”Diplomatic sources regret that the Senegalese power “Navigate by sight”.

Can elections be held on February 25 from now? The decision of the constitutional judges, if it goes in the direction of the opposition which fought against the postponement of the election, is not timetabled. According to international observers, this may be possible from a technical point of view, as most of the election equipment has been deployed. But politically, it promises to be more complicated, especially since candidates have been unable to campaign.

“Unfortunately, the council did not fix the date for the new elections leaving the prerogative to the authorities. But this doesn’t mean a blank check for the Mackey sale: voting must be arranged as soon as possible. In any case he cannot go beyond April 2 which marks the end of his mandate.Amadou Ba warns, former Pastef executive.

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On the government’s side, Minister Seydou Gueye, also a spokesman for the President’s party, cautioned, however “There is a strong possibility that elections will not be held before April 2”. “The Constitutional Council does not issue an injunction. It is up to the executive authority to find a consensus date”, he believes. As the country plunges into uncertainty, eyes are once again on President Mackey Sale.

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