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President Sall’s Uncertain Farewell Ignites Senegal’s Political Powder Keg

President Macky Sall vows to resign without setting election date, sparking protests and opposition boycott of talks in politically tense Senegal.

President Macky Sall announced his intention to resign at the end of his term on April 2 amidst growing tensions and uncertainty regarding the election date. This announcement came during a televised interview against the backdrop of recent deadly protests triggered by Sall’s decision to delay the presidential vote, initially scheduled for Sunday, to mid-December.

The postponement had stirred widespread controversy and was declared illegal by Senegal’s highest court, heightening the pressure on Sall to confirm a new election timeline.

Despite the president’s commitment to resigning on schedule, the path to a peaceful transition remains fraught with challenges. Sall’s call for political talks, set to begin Monday, aimed at deciding the forthcoming election date, was met with resistance from the opposition.

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A significant majority of presidential hopefuls, 16 out of 19, along with several civil society organizations, have opted out of the proposed “national dialogue,” casting doubt on the feasibility of resolving the ongoing political crisis through discussion.

The situation is further complicated by Sall’s departure to Abuja for an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), leaving the nation in suspense over the election’s fate. The international community had previously criticized Sall’s decree to delay the vote, fearing it might pave the way for an indefinite extension of his leadership in a region already troubled by military coups and authoritarian governance.

In his televised address, President Sall expressed concerns over the feasibility of electing a new president by April 2, suggesting the dialogue forum as the platform to determine the course of action in such a scenario. As a gesture of goodwill, he also mentioned his willingness to release imprisoned opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, whose arrest last year had ignited nationwide protests.

Following the Constitutional Council’s ruling against the election’s postponement, numerous political detainees have been released. However, this move has not quelled suspicions among Sall’s critics, who view it as another delay tactic.

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President Sall, who has served two terms since his election in 2012, had initially pledged to stay within his tenure. However, the absence of a precise election date in his latest address fails to reassure many about the future of Senegal’s democracy, particularly in a region witnessing a tilt towards totalitarian rule.


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