Doubts grow about Macky Sall’s successor

Senegalese President Macky Sall arrives for the closing session of the Global Financial New Deal Summit, Friday, June 23, 2023, in Paris, France.

Senegalese President Macky Sall announced Monday that he will not be a candidate for a third term in the 2024 presidential election, after months of uncertainty and ahead of the election.

“My long-considered decision is not to run for election, even if the Constitution gives me the right to do so,” Sall said. After months of uncertainty, the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, announced on Monday July 3 that will not seek a third term in the next presidential elections scheduled for 2024.

Reactions jumped and many voices expressed their “relief” while the hypothesis of a candidacy for the outgoing president had shaken the country for several months, branded as unconstitutional by his opponents. Macky Sall, alternately elected in 2012 and 2019, had revised the text to include that “no one could serve more than two consecutive terms.” He assured that he would submit to this rule, however he stated that it did not concern him since he had served his first term before the reform and kept the ambiguity about his intentions.

“In general, his speech caused a sigh of relief in civil society, but also in the streets,” he said. Sarah Sakho , France 24 correspondent in Dakar. “Throughout Monday, the people of Dakar did not hide their concern, fearing violence if Macky Sall officially ran for the upcoming presidential election,” he added.

The day after the speech, the president was on the front page of all the newspapers with headlines such as: “Macky, what a greatness!”, “Macky leaves through the front door”, “Macky in the pantheon of great men”. “From now on, Macky Sall will be respected. He did what was necessary for Senegal. Her gesture is noble”, a woman reacted on her part to the France 24 microphone. “She made a promise to the Senegalese and kept it”, praised another.

A dozen candidates for his succession

“While many welcome this decision, seeing it as the beginning of an appeasement in the country, it also brings its share of uncertainties,” said Francis Kpatindé, a professor at Sciences-Po Paris and a specialist in Senegal. And a big question:who will succeed macky sall? ”, he questions.

According to the specialist, within the Alliance for the Republic, APR, the party founded in 2008 by Macky Sall, several names circulate, most of which point to Amadou Ba, the current Prime Minister, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, Minister of Agriculture, or Abdoulaye Diouf. Sarr, Minister of Health. “But all options seem to be on the table,” the professor said. Especially since the process for naming his successor remains vague at the moment.

Senegalese President Macky Sall arrives for the closing session of the Global Financial New Deal Summit, Friday, June 23, 2023, in Paris, France. ©Lewis Joly/AP

“What will also happen to Benno Bokk Yakaar, BBY, the presidential coalition that brings together four of the country’s main parties: the RPA, the Socialist Party, PS, the Alliance of Forces for Progress, AFP, and Rewmi?” asked Babacar Ndiaye, a political analyst, director of research at the Dakar-based think tank Wathi. “Macky Sall’s announcement came late and the coalition finds itself without a candidate eight months before the elections. We will have to quickly find someone within the coalition capable of federating and uniting the people”, continues Ndiaye, referring to the idea of ​​primaries, which would be a novelty.

The debate heats up as Rewmi’s chairman, former opposition leader and former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, formalized his presidential candidacy in April. The 63-year-old politician came second in the last vote of 2019. In 2024 it will be his fourth candidacy for the supreme office.

Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall in the race?

In the opposition the contenders seem to be able to work. “Several candidates have already declared themselves, as Aminata Toureformer Prime Minister of macky sall who closed the majority door in September 2022, or Abdoul Mbaye, prime minister before her.

“However, the question of the eligibility or not of the opponents still arises. Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade ”, assured Francis Kpatindé. The future of the two men had been one of the most anticipated points of the national dialogue between the power and the opposition in June. Normally, the Electoral Code definitively disqualifies anyone who has been sentenced to more than five years in prison. However, Karim Wade, son of the former president Abdoulaye Wade, was sentenced in 2015 to six years in prison for illicit enrichment, before being pardoned and going into exile in Qatar. Khalifa Sall, former mayor of Dakar, was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement of public funds,

During the national dialogue The political committee ruled in favor of a modification of the text, which would allow a rehabilitation of the civil and political rights of those convicted who have benefited from a presidential pardon and who have served their sentence. “Therefore, the two men should be able to stand in the elections. But, for the moment, the timetable for implementing the measure remains very uncertain,” says Francis Kpatindé.

“The national dialogue had also made it possible to return to the sensitive issue of sponsorships, a filter that had excluded many opposition candidates for the 2019 presidential elections”, recalls the specialist. “The number of required signatures has been reduced and candidates should now be able to have their candidacy validated by elected officials,” he added.

The great unknown Ousmane Sonko

The great unknown is linked to the fate of the political opponent ousmane sonko stays in the air On 1st June, the latter was sentenced, in absentia, to two years in prison for a sexual scandal, which disqualifies him. A trial intended to keep him out of political life. The court, however, did not rule on a possible arrest. Following his conviction, serious riots broke out in the country, in which 16 people died according to the authorities and 24 according to Amnesty International and some 30 according to the opposition.

“And in the ranks of the opposition, the idea of ​​Macky Sall’s candidacy crystallized as much anger as the fate of Ousmane Sonko,” said the specialist. “This decision by the president to step down for a third term is a victory for the Senegalese people who had made it clear that they would not accept a third term from any president,” Yassine Fall, vice president, told France 24. Pastef, Ousmane Sonko’s party. “But it’s out of the question for us to let Macky Sall decide who will run by excluding, through impeachment, his main opponent,” he said.

The opponent, who claims to have been blocked by the security forces at his home in Dakar since May 28, can be arrested at any time. If so, then the cards could be reshuffled. Tried in absentia, Ousmane Sonko would have the right, if he surrendered to prison or if he was arrested, to demand a new trial. That would overturn his conviction.

In other words, the presidential race would start from scratch, even with respect to his ineligibility. “The legal soap opera is therefore far from over and can reignite tensions at any time,” summed up Francis Kpatindé.

“It will be the first time in the country that an outgoing president will not be a candidate for re-election. This will open the game”, concludes Babacar Ndiaye. “Now, hopefully this will also allow potential successors to develop their agenda with major themes like health, education, youth employment,” he concluded.

This article has been adapted from the French version of France 24.

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