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Africa must learn from Senegal’s polls

Senegal opened a new political chapter on April 2, 2024, with the swearing-in of a new president after nearly one year of drama which saw…

Senegal opened a new political chapter on April 2, 2024, with the swearing-in of a new president after nearly one year of drama which saw ex-president Macky Sall adopting all tricks to perpetuate himself in power.

Forty-four-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye of the opposition African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF) party was declared winner in the March 24 election with more than 54 per cent of the votes, defeating among others, the ruling party’s candidate.

It would be recalled that Faye was just two weeks before the election in detention, following his arrest in a major crackdown on the opposition politicians by the ex-President Sall.

Sall had also attempted to extend his tenure by postponing the election until December this year and actually got the parliament to endorse his move. The election was earlier due to be held on February 25. However, this move was declared unconstitutional by the country’s Constitutional Court.

Thousands of Senegalese also trooped to the streets to protest the move leading to the death of several protesters. People across Africa also expressed concerns about the development. In the end, Sall surrendered and called for the election, in which his candidate lost.

It is unfortunate that ex-President Sall did not learn from history. He should have recalled the case of the year 2000, when Abdou Diouf was voted out, and 2012 when it was Abdoulaye Wade’s turn to be voted out. The irony is that Sall was the beneficiary in the last episode.

It is sad that the story remains the same in Africa, where incumbent leaders do not want to give up power easily. More worrying is the fact that this played out in a region which experienced coups largely due to the incumbents’ attempts to perpetuate themselves in power.

We, at Daily Trust, congratulate ordinary Senegalese for standing firm for democracy. Their courage and determination to defend their rights should serve as an example to all Africans that they do not need soldiers to defend their democracy.

We believe that ordinary citizens hold the key to the success of democracy in Africa if only they can unite and call off the ploy of politicians to use religion and tribe to grab power. The Senegalese have shown the way.

We hope that other African leaders will take lessons from what happened to ex-President Macky Sall and begin to respect the tenets of democracy. Under no circumstance should any leader feel that he alone can rule his country or he alone has the magic wand to improve the lot of his nation.

The election in Senegal should also serve as a reminder that African democratic institutions can work if given the chance. We observe the seamless operations of Senegal’s electoral body which enabled the announcement of results in record time. The country’s media, which were allowed to announce the results from the polling booths also deserve commendation for keeping to the rules.

We also commend the Constitutional Court, which in the face of danger, insisted on the right thing being done. Its action gives hope that there are still institutions on the continent that can defend democracy and the will of the people.

Daily Trust congratulates President Faye for his success at the polls and his swearing-in as president.  We believe that he is aware of the circumstances that led to his victory. His success at the polls was largely the result of the sacrifices made by the ordinary Senegalese, some of them with their lives. It is, therefore, incumbent on him to work towards the common good of his people. He should bear in mind that his predecessors went through the same process, but betrayed their people and ended up in disgrace.

We advise that his programmes should be those that would uplift the living conditions of his ordinary compatriots. He should reserve special attention to the progress of the youths who spearheaded his success. He also has to prove that African youths have the capacity to lead the continent out of its present mess. His actions and inactions would, therefore, serve as reference for the African youth.


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