Senegal braces for presidential vote to replace Macky Sall

World Sunday 24/March/2024 14:31 PM
By: DW
Senegal braces for presidential vote to replace Macky Sall

Dakar: Senegal's eligible voters are heading to the polls to elect a new president, after the conclusion of incumbent President Macky Sall's second term.

Sall is not competing in this race, which is taking place despite his unsuccessful attempts at postponement until December. His ruling coalition is endorsing former prime minister Amadou Ba.

Meanwhile, popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, disqualified from the race due to a defamation conviction, is backing former tax inspector Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

Should none of the 19 candidates running secure over 50% of the votes, a runoff round will be held.

Sall's largely smooth tenure, stretching since 2012, has recently been muddied by his decision to delay the vote, due to take place last month.

He initially wanted to push the election to December, effectively extending his term.

However, the Senegalese Constitutional Council declared Sall's postponement of the election null and void and said arranging the vote for a date after his mandate expires on April 2 would be unconstitutional.

Sall's attempted postponement triggered deadly protests and street unrest, a recently recurring scene in a country often seen as a rare case of stable democracy in West Africa, where coups are common.

The episode of violence, ongoing since 2021, has been mostly triggered by the standoff between the ruling administration and Sonko.

Sonko, who had long been seen as the main opponent of President Macky Sall, was sentenced to two years in prison last summer after a court found him guilty for "corrupting youth."

His sentencing triggered deadly clashes in Senegal, with supporters, often young people, taking to the streets across the country and facing off with security officers.

Sonko was released from jail last week ahead of the country's presidential contest.