Senegal set for presidential poll after weeks of violence

ELECTORATE in Senegal are heading to the polls on Sunday, March 24, to elect a new president who will succeed the incumbent Macky Sall. 

The election will be held after Sall’s failed attempt to postpone the exercise until the end of the year.

It had been scheduled for February 25 until Sall deferred it, leading to violent protests across the country.

In an interview with the BBC, Sall stated that he acted to protect the integrity of the vote after allegations of corruption and disputes over the eligibility of some presidential candidates.

But his critics accused him of seeking to extend his term in office or buy time to prepare his preferred candidate.

He denied the claims.

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Sall has almost exhausted his second term as president of Senegal, one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

He assumed office on April 2, 2012, and has promised to hand over on April 2, 2024, when his term ends.

He cannot seek re-election under the country’s Constitution for a third term.

Apart from stirring up protests in the country, his decision to delay the election led to political turmoil.

It took the intervention of the Constitutional Court for the President to agree to allow the poll to be held and, consequently, leave office in April.

The impasse resulted in his government conceding to the election date less than a month before his tenure’s end.

Sunday’s election is set to be Senegal’s fourth democratic power transfer since it gained independence from France in 1960.

There are 17 candidates in the race. They include a former Prime Minister, Idrissa Seck, and a former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall.

In recent developments, a top opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, was released from prison last week, triggering celebrations on the streets of Dakar and renewing excitement about the contest.

Sonko has been barred from contesting, due to the charges against him but has been fully supportive of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, his party’s candidate.

Here are the profiles of the top contenders:

Amadou Ba

Amadou Ba is the nominee of the ruling party, Alliance for the Republic, and Sall’s favoured replacement.

Aged 62, Ba, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently of Economy and Finance, runs on an agenda which seeks to sustain the current administration’s economic blueprint. He also pledges to restore peace and unity following months of political unrest.

Amadou Ba, Senegal presidential candidate
Amadou BaBassirou Diomaye Faye

The 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye is the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko’s replacement. After being freed from prison on March 14 with Sonko, the co-founder of the opposition Pastef party is running a political campaign that seeks to restore Senegal’s ‘sovereignty.’



    Bassirou Diomaye Faye
    Bassirou Diomaye Faye. Photo Credit; WikidataIdrissa Seck

    Idrissa Seck of the Rewmi party,  a former Prime Minister who worked under former president Abdoulaye Wade from 2002 to 2004, is a candidate for president for the fourth time. The 64-year-old former Sall’s rival has attempted several times to use his political background to win the nation’s presidency but has been unsuccessful.

    Idrissa Seck
    Idrissa Seck. Photo Credit; Facebook

    Khalifa Sall

    Not to be confused with the departing president, Khalifa Sall is another contender. The Taxawu Senegal alliance leader was disqualified from running for president in 2019 after being found guilty of fraud and theft of public funds in 2018.

    He was given a presidential pardon and a statute allowing the restoration of civil rights for those convicted of crimes who were granted amnesty after a nationwide dialogue that the government started in May 2023. Macky Sall’s opponent has subsequently made a comeback to politics.

    Khalifa Sall
    Khalifa Sall. Photo credit; X

    Other candidates in the contest are:

    • Anta Babacar Ngom
    • Boubacar Camara
    • Déthié Fall
    • Daouda Ndiaye
    • Mame Boye Diao
    • Mouhamed Boun Abdallah Dionne
    • Aliou Mamadou Dia
    • Malick Gackou
    • Aly Ngouille Ndiaye
    • Mamadou Lamine Diallo
    • Serigne Mboup
    • Pape Djibril Fall
    • Thierno Allassane Sall

    Fatimah Quadri is a Journalist and a Fact-checker at The ICIR. She has written news articles, fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy in an effort to combat information disinformation.
    She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected]

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