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Opinion: Political Tensions Rise In Senegal

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President Macky SALL Of Senegal And Ousman Sonko Leader Of The Pastef Political Party In Senegal

D. A. Jawo

As Senegal approaches the 2024 presidential elections, the political tension is rising to a dangerous level, and unless it is urgently addressed, it could lead to catastrophic consequences for the sub-region, and The Gambia, in particular.
In addition to the belligerency of Ousmane Sonko and his radical Pastef group, the suspense created by the failure of President Macky Sall to indicate whether or not he is going to seek a third mandate, is certainly not helping to bring down the tension.
While according to some political analysts, President Sall can legally seek another term in office owing to the fact that the prevailing constitution, approved in a referendum in March 2016, allows him two five-year terms which excludes his first seven-year term.
It can be recalled that his first seven-year term was reduced to a five-year term in the 2016 constitution.
However, whatever the constitutional provisions are, it is still not advisable for President Sall to seek a third term because it can lead to trouble in Senegal, which we cannot afford in the Senegambia sub-region.
I am however among those people who are convinced that he would not seek a third term, and the apparent reason why he is keeping everyone in suspense is to avoid putting his own coalition in disarray. It is quite obvious that whenever he announces that he is not going to seek a third term, that would open the flood gates for aspirants of the position both in his Alliance pour la République (APR) and the other component parties of the Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition, and that can even lead to disintegration of the coalition, thus increase the chance for radical politicians like Sonko to win the next elections.
Therefore, the only way he can avoid such a scenario is to keep everyone in suspense as long as he can, and that is what he seems to be doing.
Apart from being an accomplished democrat, it is hard to see how President Sall, being current chairman of the African Union, also flouting the very ideals of a two-term limit being propagated by the AU.
Therefore, I am ready to bet that President Sall will not seek a third mandate, regardless of what happens.

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