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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

Senegal sets March date for delayed presidentials, but confusion prevails

Supporters of the President of Senegal Macky Sall and presidential candidate Amadou Ba hold flyers carrying his portrait during a march for peace in Dakar on 3 March, 2024. AFP - ABDOU KARIM NDOYE

Senegalese President Macky Sall has said delayed presidential elections will be held on 24 March after the country's top court found it would be unconstitutional to hold the vote after his mandate expires on 2 April. Confusingly, however, the Constitutional Council overruled the government by choosing 31 March as the date.

The Council of Ministers announced the date chosen by the president on Wednesday, capping a dramatic evening that saw Sall dissolve the government and replace Prime Minister Amadou Ba with Interior Minister Sidiki Kaba.

The presidency said the move was intended to help Ba and the ruling coalition’s presidential candidate focus on the electoral campaign.

A few minutes after the election announcement, the Constitutional Council said the polls would be held a week later.

'Total imbroglio'

Members of the opposition said they were puzzled by the contradicting dates.

“Is it March 24 or 31? We are in a total imbroglio," Abass Fall, a former MP from the main opposition Pastef party told RFI.

Ayib Dafe, an MP from the same party, said Pastef was satisfied the election would happen before the end of Sall's mandate.

"Now we have to reconcile the two dates between the one of the government and that of the Constitutional Council; it's a bit messy," Dafe said.

"In any case we are ready to go to the presidential election because that is what we have always asked for."

The Aar Sunu election platform said the situation appeared to be a victory for themselves and civil society.

A proposal by the government's national dialogue commission to hold the polls on 2 June had no legal basis, the Constitutional Council earlier said.

The council maintained the list of 19 candidates despite demands for a main opposition candidate to be included.

Ongoing political crisis

Senegal has been thrown into political turmoil since Sall postponed the 25 February polls amid electoral disputes.

But many believe Sall and his party sought to postpone the vote because they were unsure about their own candidate and wanted time to think.

"It's very evident that the election delay would not have taken place if Macky Sall believed that Amadou Ba was clearly capable of winning the presidency," Tochi Eni-Kalu, Africa analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told Reuters.

A move to hold them on 15 December was ruled unconstitutional, with the opposition insisting they be held before April.

(with newswires)

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