Senegal: Macky Sall commits to organizing the presidential election “as soon as possible” after the setback of the Constitutional Council

The Senegalese head of state Macky Sall pledged, Friday February 16, to organize the presidential election "as soon as possible", after the veto put on Thursday by the Constitutional Council to his decision to postpone the election initially scheduled for the end of February

Senegal: Macky Sall commits to organizing the presidential election “as soon as possible” after the setback of the Constitutional Council

The Senegalese head of state Macky Sall pledged, Friday February 16, to organize the presidential election "as soon as possible", after the veto put on Thursday by the Constitutional Council to his decision to postpone the election initially scheduled for the end of February . The Constitutional Council on Thursday invalidated the postponement of the presidential election until December 15 and asked the authorities to hold the vote “as soon as possible”.

Mr. Sall “intends to fully implement the Council’s decision” and “will without delay carry out the necessary consultations for the organization of the presidential election as soon as possible,” his services said in a press release.

A little earlier, the European Union (EU) called on Friday, February 16, “all parties to respect [this] decision and to make every effort to organize the elections according to the Council decision, i.e. -say as soon as possible”. On Thursday, the Constitutional Council invalidated the decision of the head of state, Macky Sall, to postpone the presidential election, scheduled for February 25.

Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, added that the EU denounces “an unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against demonstrations and restrictions on civic space”. She also recalled that the Union had already expressed its concerns about the announcement of the postponement of the presidential election to December 15, 2024. This “decision to postpone has had a significant impact on the stability and social cohesion of the country”, underlined the spokesperson during a press briefing.

For its part, France also called on the authorities of Senegal on Friday to respect the decision of the country's Constitutional Council "in its entirety, and to organize the elections as soon as possible", the spokesperson said in a press release. deputy of the Quai d'Orsay. “France encourages all Senegalese actors to work to appease the political climate, in accordance with Senegal’s long democratic tradition,” it is added.

More than 130 inmates released

One hundred and thirty-four members of the opposition and civil society who were detained in Senegal have been released since Thursday. Ninety others were to be sent during the day on Friday, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Souleymane Djim, member of the Collective of Families of Political Detainees, affirmed that “156 detainees were released” Thursday “and 500 in total must be” soon. “International pressure is causing President Macky Sall to order releases,” he said.

One of the main opposition figures, Ousmane Sonko, but also his second at the head of the Pastef party – dissolved –, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, one of the favorites in the presidential election, have been detained since 2023. No information is available status for the time of their possible release.

Three dead during repressed demonstrations

The postponement of the vote caused clashes which left three people dead during repressed demonstrations, which also gave rise to dozens of arrests. Deaths “deplored” by the European Union, as well as “the large number of injuries and arrests,” said Ms. Massrali.

“Like the United Nations, the European Union is calling for investigations and denouncing unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protests and restrictions on civic space. We therefore call for all light to be shed on the conditions of death of these people and for the authorities to guarantee fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to demonstrate peacefully,” she concluded.

New calls for demonstrations have been launched for Friday afternoon and Saturday. The opposition and civil society have cried out for a "constitutional coup d'état", the first accusing the presidential camp of trying to prevent the defeat of its candidate, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, and suspecting Mr. Sall of wanting to remain in power. power.

The president, for his part, swore that he would not run for a third term, justifying the postponement by the fear of a challenge to the vote likely to provoke new outbursts of violence, after those of 2021 and 2023.