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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

Senegal's Macky Sall says his mandate as president will end in April

People in Dakar watch Senegalese President Macky Sall give a speech on national television on 22 February, 2024. © MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

Senegalese President Macky Sall has said his mandate as leader of the West African nation will end on 2 April – adding that it was unlikely a new president would be elected before then.

Sall's announcement could assuage fears he was planning to extend his rule – an issue that had contributed to a tense political climate, and sometimes violent protests in one of the region's stable democracies.

During an interview on national television, Sall said he wanted the debate to be "clearly settled".

His announcement comes after the Constitutional Council, the highest election authority, last week ruled that a 10-month postponement of the vote was unlawful. The election had initially been scheduled for 25 February.

Still no date

Sall said however that he cannot issue a decree to hold the election before a national dialogue takes place.

Civil society groups, political parties and candidates are to join the dialogue, which is set to begin on Monday and will likely finish by Tuesday.

He said that candidates who had not been approved by the Constitutional Council would also be invited.

Prominent opposition figures including the jailed opposition politician Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, were excluded from the list of 19 candidates approved for the election.

"If we find consensus, I will issue the decree immediately to set the date; if consensus is not found, I will refer the matter to the Constitutional Council," Sall said - adding he did not believe the process would be finished before 2 April.

In case the process runs beyond that date, he said: "What is certain is that there will be no void. We cannot leave a country without a president."

"I want to make the dichotomy clearly between the election and the end of the mandate."

Sall said he would follow the guidance of the Constitutional Council on the matter.

Sall last week promised he would abide by the Constitutional Council's request for the vote to be scheduled as soon as possible, after the crisis triggered violent street protests and warnings of authoritarian overreach.


Candidates haven't announced yet if they are going to take part in the dialogue.

One, Mame Boye Diao told RFI that for now he only wants to "rejoice" about the possible release of candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Ousmane Sonko, and hopes the presidential election can be held before the month of June.

This week, opposition candidates accused the authorities of "dragging their feet on setting a new date."

Sixteen of the 19 presidential contenders complained about an "inexplicable slowness" in enacting the council's ruling.

They said the slow resumption of electoral operations showed Sall's unwillingness to launch a process that would lead to a change of power.

The citizen collective Aar Sunu Election (Let’s Protect Our Election) said it would hold a rally in the capital Dakar on Saturday, the day before the election was due to have taken place.

Protests are also expected on Friday and Sunday, the day the poll was originally supposed to take place, for a march described as Sall's "farewell party", in a symbolic gesture.

(with Reuters)

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