In Senegal the Constitutional Council declares the postponement of the

In Senegal, the Constitutional Council declares the postponement of the presidential elections invalid

The Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that the law passed by parliament postponing Senegal's presidential elections violates the constitution and must be annulled. The planned postponement of the vote from February 25th to December 15th, decided by the National Assembly, triggered a shock wave and violent demonstrations in the country.

Published on: 02/15/2024 – 10:11 p.m

4 mins

In Senegal, the Constitutional Council has passed its verdict. The panel ruled on Thursday, February 15, that the law passed by parliament postponing the presidential elections, originally scheduled for February 25, violates the constitution and must be annulled.

The Constitutional Council also repealed President Sall's decree that de facto changed the electoral calendar just three weeks before the deadline.

President Macky Sall's cancellation of the electoral process and its subsequent postponement to December 15 by the National Assembly sent a shockwave across the country. This announcement angered many Senegalese, who denounced a violation of the constitution that allowed the president to remain in power.

Also read: In Dakar, Senegalese are wavering between resignation and anger after the postponement of the presidential election

On Friday, the country experienced its most violent day of demonstrations against the postponement of the presidential election. Violence occurred in several regions of the country, leaving three people dead. New calls for demonstrations were launched for Friday. A march organized by a civil society collective is also planned for Saturday.

Also readSenegal: Fisticuffs and anti-Macky Sall slogans in Dakar

The postponement of the election came after the launch of a parliamentary inquiry intended to shed light on the conditions for the elimination of certain candidates. At the beginning of this action, the supporters of Karim Wade – whose candidacy was declared invalid because of his French nationality – said they suspected two judges of the Constitutional Council of corruption.

At the same time, another candidate, Rose Wardini, whose candidacy was confirmed by the Constitutional Council, was taken into police custody for “forgery and the use of forgery and fraud in judgments” and was suspected of also having dual French-Senegalese nationality.

President Macky Sall considered these circumstances serious enough to interrupt the holding of the elections. “These unclear terms could seriously damage the credibility of the election by laying the groundwork for litigation before and after the election.”

In response, the opposition criticized a maneuver aimed at torpedoing the presidential election and preventing the defeat of the majority candidate from his own camp, Amadou Ba.

Release of opponents

Several detained opponents were released on Thursday as the president faces pressure from key international partners, the opposition and civil society, critical of the election's postponement.

“Most of my clients in the cases initiated for political reasons will be released,” Me Cheikh Koureissy Bâ told AFP, assuring that the situation affects several dozen prisoners.

On a list of several of them that Me Moussa Sarr gave to the AFP are Aliou Sané, coordinator of the civil movement “Y'en a marre”, Djamil Sané, mayor of a municipality in Dakar, and several members of the opposition politician's former opposition party Pastef Ousmane Sonko.

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

One of the main candidates announced for the 2024 presidential election, Ousmane Sonko, as well as his deputy at the head of the dissolved Pastef party, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, have been imprisoned since 2023. There is currently no information available about her possible release.

Since the beginning of the week, the political world has been reveling in the possibility of an amnesty, which is expected to be discussed in the Council of Ministers, but there has been no such announcement.

President Macky Sall's announcement that he would postpone the presidential election three weeks before the deadline sparked an outcry in this country known for its stability in a region hit by a proliferation of coups.

Since 2021 and the power struggle between Ousmane Sonko, who is involved in several court cases, and President Macky Sall, several hundred opposition activists, more than a thousand according to some human rights organizations, have been arrested.

With AFP