civil society calls for a major demonstration to save the presidential election

A demonstration will take place on Tuesday February 13 in Dakar, against the postponement of the presidential election, initially scheduled for February 25. Opponents of President Macky Sall, who postponed the calendar to December 15, are mobilizing while there have been tensions for ten days and three demonstrators have already died.


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Demonstrators display a banner demanding the return of the calendar of elections scheduled for February 25.  (JEROME FAVRE / MAXPPP)

Tuesday, February 13, is a high-risk day ahead, as it arrives after 10 days of tension in the country. On February 3, 2024, President Macky Sall announced the postponement of the presidential election, which was initially scheduled for February 25. This announcement took everyone by surprise and has since been ratified by the National Assembly, which postponed it until December 15, 2024. The Assembly also voted to maintain Macky Sall in power until he takes office. of his successor, probably in early 2025. His second term officially expired on April 2.

Since then, the protest has not stopped. Last Friday, the entire country was shaken by a large-scale protest, repressed by the security forces. They dispersed the slightest gathering by firing tear gas. This weekend a tragedy added to the tensions, with the death of a high school student who was demonstrating in the south of Senegal, bringing the number of deaths since the start of the crisis to three.

A tension that has not weakened since 2021

A new highlight is expected on Tuesday with this demonstration launched by a civil society collective, Aar Sunu Election, which means “Let’s protect our election”. The country has been very tense for many years. The question of the presidential election has been at the heart of debates for years. Already in 2021, during the riots, the question was on the lips of many Senegalese. Last year, again, the country was inflamed over the same subject.

Concern grips everyone, the Senegalese, the opposition and also the diaspora, with demonstrations which attracted several thousand people to Paris and Berlin. Senegal’s international partners are also very attentive. On Sunday, the European Union offered its condolences to the relatives of those who died in the protests and called on the authorities to “guarantee fundamental freedoms”.

For the record, you should know that since the start of the protest, the government has at times cut off the mobile internet. It also cut the signal of television channels and limited press freedom so much so that the coordination of press associations called for a systematic boycott of all government activities. A vigil on the theme of press freedom is also due to take place this Monday, February 12 evening in front of the press house in Dakar.

A gap between generations

In Senegal, 75% of the population is under 35 years old and a majority of these young people are ready to take to the streets to express their anger. In 2021, it was she who had already taken to the streets, it was she who attacked French symbols and it was she who made those in power tremble.

The attitude of young people will be all the more observed as they no longer respond to the codes of their parents and grandparents. When you are in Senegal, you can talk to old Senegalese people, who explain to you that they are French, because they were born before independence in 1960. They tell you this in impeccable French. They are the opposite of this youth who has no consideration for France, who no longer speaks French and who only wants one thing, that of moving on to something else.

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