June elections proposed during Senegal dialogue to end political crisis

Senegal has been thrown into crisis since the president attempted to push the February 25 elections till December.

Macky Sall
President Macky Sall has said he will step down by April 2 [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

A national dialogue panel in Senegal has proposed holding elections in early June, the first such proposal since President Macky Sall attempted to push the February 25 elections till December.

In early February, Sall, who is serving his second term and has said he would not run again, announced the postponement of the elections. But Senegal’s highest election authority, the Constitutional Council, rejected that move and ordered the government to set a new election date as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, the panel sat as part of a two-day national dialogue that Sall called earlier this week, aiming at fostering trust among the candidates and the population. Civil, political, and religious leaders attended, but almost all of the candidates on the ballot refused to participate.

The panel proposed holding the vote on June 2.

Sall has said he will step down by April 2, which is the end of his current term, but it is unclear who will take over if elections are not held before that. A member of the dialogue panel, Ndiawar Paye, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that it would recommend Sall remain in office until his successor is sworn in.

The delay of the vote has sparked deadly protests across Senegal, often seen as a rare stable democracy in a region rife with coups. Security forces have killed at least three people and injured dozens of others.

The panel called for the Constitutional Council to review decisions that blocked candidates including Karim Wade, an opposition leader and son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, from the ballot.

The election authority disqualified the younger Wade because he previously held dual citizenship. He renounced his French nationality to run.

Sall has defended his decision to delay elections but has accepted the Constitutional Council’s ruling and attempted to calm the situation. At the launch of the dialogue, he said he would propose a general amnesty law addressing the protests, in which hundreds of people were jailed.

It remains uncertain if the amnesty would include Ousmane Sonko, a popular opposition leader who is currently in jail.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies