Senegalese President Macky Sall will address the nation on Monday evening, his office says, amid speculation that he is planning to run for a third term, which the opposition has said would be unconstitutional.
Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko called for his supporters to be ready to take to the streets if the president announced any such plan.
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Accusations and uncertainty over the president’s intentions have fuelled unrest and sometimes violent protests over the past year, which have threatened the longstanding image of stability associated with the West African nation.
Sall came to power in 2012 and won re-election in 2019. Senegal’s previous and current constitutions limit presidents to serving two terms.
The president has not spelled out plans for his political future but has suggested he is legally eligible to run for two terms under the new constitution, which went into effect in 2016.
If he decides to run again, it would be a repeat of history. In 2012, Sall defeated then-President Abdoulaye Wade, who was running for a third term. Wade’s ambition led to mass protests, which helped carry Sall to the presidency.
“Stand ready, and be strong,” Sonko said in a speech to his supporters late on Sunday. “If he [Sall] says he will seek a third term, we should rise up against that and all refuse.”
Sonko was sentenced to two years in jail last month on charges stemming from an alleged rape – accusations that he denies and says were politically motivated.
Sonko has not been arrested, but any detention could rule him out of elections scheduled for February. In his speech, he also called for protests if he were jailed.
At least 16 people died in mass protests after his conviction in some of the deadliest unrest in Senegal’s recent history.
Sall, 61, will speak on television at 20:00 GMT, the presidency said.