AFRICA/SENEGAL - Archbishop of Dakar: “Like many of our fellow citizens, I am disturbed by what is happening”

Monday, 5 February 2024 elections   bishops   violence  

Dakar (Agenzia Fides) - "Like many of our fellow citizens I am disturbed by what is happening", Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, told the press after President Macky Sall announced, on February 3, the indefinite postponement of the presidential election scheduled for February 25. "The Senegalese people must avoid the technique of evasion. If there is a rule, it must be followed. If we respect it, we can move forward," said Archbishop Ndiaye. "It is important that we try to live national cohesion. We need institutions that are respected in their mission so that we can move forward together. The most important thing for me is that Senegal lives according to its Constitution" emphasized the archbishop of Dakar, who called on the Senegalese to follow the path of dialogue in order to restore social peace. In a live televised address to the nation, President Sall stated that he had signed "the decree of February 3, 2024 repealing the law that fixed the presidential elections for February 25, 2024 because "our country is experiencing a conflict between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council in recent days against the background of an alleged corruption case involving judges". "I will initiate discussions to create the conditions for free, transparent and inclusive elections in a peaceful and reconciled Senegal," he added, without giving a new date for the election. President Sall was referring to the conflict between the Constitutional Council and the National Assembly that broke out after the court's final confirmation of 20 candidates and the exclusion of several dozen others. At the initiative of Karim Wade, a candidate excluded from running for president who had questioned the integrity of two constitutional judges and called for the elections to be postponed, the Assembly approved the creation of a commission of inquiry into the conditions for validating candidacies. Another prominent figure excluded from running for president is Ousmane Sonko, who was given a six-month suspended prison sentence on January 4 for "defamation" and declared "ineligible" for five years. Sonko is particularly popular among young people because he campaigns against corruption and France's influence in the country. The presidential candidate, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, who is being contested within his own party, appears weak. Yesterday, Sunday, February 4, clashes broke out in Dakar between the security forces and demonstrators who responded to the opposition parties' call to take to the streets to protest against the postponement of the presidential elections - an event that has not happened since 1963 in Senegal, a country where there has never been a coup, a rare event in Africa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/2/2024)