Senegal’s President Macky Sall’s Decision to Step Down Eases Crisis.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall has made a significant announcement that has averted a deeper crisis for the country. He declared that he will not seek a controversial third term and will step down at the end of his two terms. This move comes in response to popular opposition politician Ousmane Sonko’s threat of mass protests if Mr. Sall ran for re-election. Political analyst Alioune Tine compared the decision to “deactivating a bomb,” emphasizing its importance in maintaining stability.
President Sall’s unexpected television address on Monday night surprised many. Momentum had been growing within his ruling party, urging him to seek re-election. However, the president’s clear awareness and memory of his commitment to a two-term limit led him to honor his word. His decision touched the emotions of his supporters, who were present at the presidential palace in Dakar, some shedding tears.
Critics, however, have pointed out Mr. Sall’s previous ambiguous stance on seeking a third term. When asked by journalists after the 2019 election, he responded with “ni oui, ni non” (neither yes nor no) in French. This caused controversy as Senegal’s constitution strictly prohibits a president from serving more than two terms. Mr. Sall’s camp argued that his first term didn’t count, as the current constitution was only adopted during his second term.
Sources close to the presidential palace revealed that advisors and relatives who held influential positions in state companies under Mr. Sall’s rule had encouraged him to seek re-election. Their concern stemmed from the fear of losing their positions and economic benefits, particularly with Senegal’s expanding oil and gas industry on the horizon.
The opposition, led by Mr. Sonko, vehemently opposed Mr. Sall’s prolonged stay in power, accusing his government of increasing authoritarianism. Mr. Sonko’s rallying of his predominantly young supporters against Mr. Sall resulted in clashes with security forces and several deaths. In anticipation of President Sall’s address, Mr. Sonko called on the Senegalese people to stand up against a potential third term.
Analysts view President Sall’s decision as a response to mounting pressure. He expressed his desire to preserve Senegal’s international image of democracy and stability. In contrast to some leaders in the region, who extended their terms in office, Mr. Sall’s commitment to the constitution has been commended by African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki and others.
Former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, however, believes that Mr. Sall’s decision is not a heroic move but a mere application of the constitution. She argues that he should have made this declaration immediately after his re-election in 2019, which would have prevented the turmoil and challenges faced by the country.
Overall, President Sall’s decision to step down after two terms has averted a deeper crisis and safeguarded democratic principles in Senegal.