Concerns emerge amid indefinite postponement of presidential election in Senegal

 February 4, 2024

The political stability in the West African nation of Senegal is now the subject of growing concern, due to President Macky Sall's recent decision to cancel an election that was slated for later this month, as the BBC reports.

Adding to the sense of unease inside the country is the fact that Sall has offered no indication of when the election -- previously set for Feb. 25 -- might actually take place.

Long known as one of the more stable democracies in the region and a positive example for other nations on the continent, Senegal is now facing a feeling of uncertainty due to the election's cancellation.

Sall cited ongoing conflict over the eligibility of certain candidates for office as the reason for the indefinite postponement, noting that lawmakers in the country are also currently probing two Constitutional Council judges whose conduct has been brought into question.

Though he has stated that he does not intend to seek a third term in office, the absence of a clear timeline from Sall for choosing his replacement has caused anxiety among the electorate as well as within the broader global community.

Critics of the president have floated the notion that he delayed the election simply because he continues to harbor doubts that his hand-picked successor, Amadou Ba, would prevail.

Ecowas, the West African regional political bloc, together with the United States, have called on Senegalese authorities to state specifically when the election will occur.

The European Union and France in particular have also indicated a desire for the vote to be held in the immediate future so as to avoid triggering unrest among the populace.

Adding to the sense of dread lurking in the country are recent protests that have prompted police to fire tear gas at demonstrators in the capital city of Dakar.

Worrying many both in Africa and abroad is the fact that additional protests have been set for Monday, something which only adds to the sense of impending chaos.

Given the mounting concerns about what could develop if the election delays persist, the U.S. State Department issued a statement on Saturday advocating for a hasty resolution to the situation, as CBS News noted.

The Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State declared, “We urge all participants in Senegal's electoral process to engage peacefully in the important effort to swiftly set a new date and the conditions for a timely, free, and fair election.”

“We acknowledge allegations of irregularities, but we are deeply concerned about the disruption to the Presidential electoral calendar,” the statement continued.

Whether this growing campaign of international pressure will bring any influence to bear on the ultimate fate of the election in Senagal, however, only time will tell.