Senegal’s Sall promises to hold delayed presidential vote as soon as possible

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 10:48 AM

By Portia Crowe and Ngouda Dione

DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegalese President Macky Sall on Friday said he would fully abide by a court decision that overturned the postponement of the presidential election to December, pledging to hold consultations to organise the vote as soon as possible.

A bill that pushed back the Feb. 25 poll and plunged the country into electoral uncertainty was overturned on Thursday by Senegal’s Constitutional Council.

Sall “has taken note” of the council’s decision and request for the election to be held as soon as possible, the presidency said in a statement on Friday.

“The president intends to fully execute the constitutional council’s decision,” it added.

Sall has been under significant pressure to accept the ruling. The week-long electoral crisis has already led to violent protests and warnings of authoritarian overreach in one of coup-hit West Africa’s more stable democracies.

Opposition leaders, West Africa’s main economic and political bloc ECOWAS, and foreign powers including the United States and France urged authorities earlier on Friday to comply with the judgement and quickly set a new date for the election.

Another demonstration against the delay was due to begin in the capital Dakar just as the presidency issued Sall’s response. It was not immediately clear whether the protest would still take place.

Sall has previously said he delayed the election due to a dispute over the candidate list and alleged corruption within the Constitutional Council that he warned would undermine the credibility of the poll. The council has denied the accusations.

Many opposition figures have welcomed the council’s ruling and some have called on Sall to set an election date before April 2, when his mandate expires.

“On April 2, the president will go,” said opposition leader Khalifa Sall, who has condemned recent events as an “institutional coup”.

“Now conditions need to be adapted, because holding elections on Feb. 25 would not be materially possible,” he said during an interview in Dakar, adding that he was prepared to take part in talks with all sides to agree on a new date.

“We could not manage to hold the election before April 2,” he noted, stressing that all relevant actors would need to be consulted on the matter.

(Additional reporting by Diadie Ba, Bate Felix, Nellie Peyton; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian, Alessandra Prentice and Sofia Christensen, Editing by William Maclea, Kirsten Donovan)