In Senegal, the Constitutional Council invalidates the postponement of the presidential election decided by Macky Sall

The Senegalese Constitutional Council invalidated, on Thursday February 15, the postponement of the presidential election from February 25 to December 15, at the origin of one of the most serious crises experienced by the country in decades, Agence France learned - Press (AFP) from the institution

In Senegal, the Constitutional Council invalidates the postponement of the presidential election decided by Macky Sall

The Senegalese Constitutional Council invalidated, on Thursday February 15, the postponement of the presidential election from February 25 to December 15, at the origin of one of the most serious crises experienced by the country in decades, Agence France learned - Press (AFP) from the institution.

The Council declared unconstitutional the law adopted on February 5 by the National Assembly, which postpones the election for ten months and keeps the president, Macky Sall, in his post until his successor takes office, according to a document published on social networks and authenticated by a source within the institution.

Furthermore, the Council canceled the decree promulgated by the Head of State which, de facto, modified the electoral calendar, just three weeks before the deadline. But he notes “the impossibility of organizing the presidential election on the date initially planned” of February 25, given the delay in the process, and “invites the competent authorities to hold it as soon as possible”.

Release of opponents

This postponement provoked an outcry from the opposition and civil society, who cried “constitutional coup d’état”. It also sparked protests during which three people were killed and dozens of others arrested. New calls for demonstrations have been launched for Friday. A march organized by a civil society collective is also planned for Saturday.

Faced with the protest, President Sall expressed his desire to find ways of “appeasement”. Important partners in Senegal, worried about the risk of violence, called on the government to hold the election as quickly as possible.

The decision of the Constitutional Court was made public on the day when several opponents, arrested in connection with the political unrest of recent years, were released. “Most of my clients in the cases set up for political considerations have been released,” Me Cheikh Koureissy Bâ announced to AFP, assuring that this concerned several dozen detainees.

On a list of several of them given to AFP by Me Moussa Sarr include Aliou Sané, coordinator of the citizen movement "Y'en a marre", Djamil Sané, mayor of a commune in the Dakar metropolitan area, and several members of the ex-Pastef opposition party of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko.

“International pressure is causing President Macky Sall to order releases,” Souleymane Djim, a member of the Collective of Families of Political Prisoners, commented to AFP, who confirmed that releases were in progress.

“We are a bargaining chip”

One of the main candidates announced for the 2024 presidential election, Ousmane Sonko, but also his second at the head of the dissolved Pastef party, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, have been detained since 2023. There is currently no information on their possible release. .

“They just came to tell us: you're getting out,” says Gagné Demba Gueye, 32, on Thursday evening in front of Rebeuss prison in Dakar, where around fifty sympathizers and relatives are waiting for the prisoners to be released in dribs and drabs. “We are a bargaining chip, they are taking us out against the stability of the country,” he says, wearing a bracelet in the colors of Pastef. “We’re going to start fighting again. We never gave up,” he adds.

Several hundred members of the opposition, more than a thousand according to some human rights organizations, have been arrested since 2021 and the power struggle between Mr. Sonko, implicated in several legal proceedings, and the president Sall.

The opposition accused the presidential camp of making arrangements with the electoral calendar for fear of the defeat of its candidate, the Prime Minister, Amadou Ba. She suspects a maneuver to keep Mr. Sall in power, even if the latter refutes it.

The president justified the postponement by the quarrels sparked by the pre-electoral process and his fear that a contested vote would provoke new outbreaks of violence.

The Constitutional Council reaffirmed Thursday the principle of “intangibility” of the five-year duration of the presidential mandate.