By: Modou A. Sambou
President Macky Sall of Senegal has engineered a flagrant breach of his country’s constitution by unilaterally delaying the presidential election that was slated for February 25, 2024. This is a brazen demonstration of disdain for democratic norms and the rule of law. Sall’s actions are an abhorrent insult to the democratic aspirations of the Senegalese people, and they are motivated by a barely concealed desire to expand his hold on power beyond the bounds set by the Constitution.
Even though Sall’s constitutional mandate is scheduled to end on April 2, 2024, he has blatantly taken advantage of parliamentary channels to enact a phony bill that attempts to give legitimacy to his unlawful proclamation. Term limits are a basic democratic principle, and this planned move aims to clear the path for his continuing reign. Under Senegal’s electoral laws, his pre-textual rationale —which cites questionable claims of corruption and double-nationality against certain members of the constitutional panel and a competing candidate respectively — does not hold up to even the most superficial examination.
Senegal has seen considerable unrest as a result of Sall’s dictatorial power grab, and opposition figures have been the focus of a wave of arbitrary arrests and detentions. This brutal suppression, typical of Sall’s authoritarian inclinations, is a clear warning of how dangerously democratic liberties are being eroded under his rule.
Sall’s autocratic acts have consequences that go beyond Senegal’s boundaries. Senegal and The Gambia are closely related countries, linked not only by geography but also by common culture and ancestry. I refuse to stay silent in the face of such egregious abuses of power as a concerned Gambian citizen with strong family ties to Senegal.
Thus, I call on President Adama Barrow to show unflinching support for the Senegalese people by categorically denouncing Macky’s antidemocratic actions. In 2016, Macy did not hesitate to use his influence to ensure that the voice of the people was implemented, even though his meddling was viewed differently among Gambians. I expect Barrow to also stand in solidarity with the Senegalese people to call his fellow and brother to respect the electoral calendar of Senegal. Macky’s intentional violation of democratic principles calls for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to pull off its mask of hypocrisy and act decisively. Although ECOWAS is quick to denounce coups d’état carried out by ‘outside parties’, its unwillingness to condemn one of its own reveals a worrying double standard that calls into question the organization’s legitimacy as a regional arbiter of democracy and government.
Let me conclude by making one thing clear: a Gambian cannot, in good faith, ignore the suffering of our Senegalese brothers and sisters. ‘We’ denounce President Macky Sall’s unlawful power grab as partners united by common principles and aspirations for democracy and justice.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Fatu Network’s editorial stance.