President Macky Sall’s announcement not to seek re-election is a sigh of relief to the Senegalese

Senegal incumbent President Macky Sall announced on Monday 3 July, 2023 that he will not run for re-election in 2024.This announcement brought to an end the long-held speculation that he would seek a third term. The uncertainty over President Macky Sall’s political future had been one of the triggers that fuelled the widespread deadly protests in the country last month.

Secrets Known has established that the announcement of Macky Sall not to seek another presidential term comes as a relief to the Senegalese people following his increased unpopularity stemming from Sall’s growing authoritarian tendencies. He is widely seen as the mastermind behind the tramped-up charges of alleged rape by opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, a candidate in the 2024 presidential elections.

Sonko was sentenced to two years in jail in early June, 2023 on a charge of “corrupting young people”, while acquitting him of rape. This sparked mass protests, believed to be the deadliest in country’s recent history where at least 9 people were killed. Sonko is yet to be arrested, but any detention will rule him out of elections according to the electoral laws of Senegal. The elections are scheduled for February 2024.

In the second term of Sall’s leadership, he became less democratic and perhaps entertained the idea of running for the third term, contrary to the constitution that provides for two presidential terms before he changed his mind due to the mass protests. His second term has since been characterised with restrictions on freedoms of speech and assembly, restrictions on civic space especially social media, and clamp down on political opposition.

Sall came to power in 2012 after defeating President Abdoulaye Wade, who was running for a third term. In almost a similar fate of events, Wade’s ambition led to mass protests, which helped carry Sall to the presidency. In 2019, Sall was re-elected and his announcement of not seeking a third term in 2024 comes as a relief to the Senegalese who are vying for change.

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