Election Watch: Senegal

Senegal is set to hold elections on March 24, 2024. Here’s what you need to know.

What are the issues?    

Last month, Senegal – historically a bright spot of democracy on the continent – was thrown into turmoil when outgoing president Macky Sall cancelled elections scheduled for February 25, inducing the parliament to delay the contest until the end of 2024. Following widespread domestic protests and international alarm, the drama took a more positive turn on February 17, when the Supreme Court annulled the cancellation and ordered the president to hold the election “as soon as possible.” The new election date is now slated for March 24 to ensure President Sall ends his mandate by April 2, in line with the constitution. President Sall has indicated that he will comply.  

Why should we care? 

As election day approaches, the 19 approved candidates vying for the presidency find themselves operating within a condensed timeline to mobilize supporters. This marks the culmination of weeks of uncertainty and inaugurates a fiercely competitive race. Anticipated to be the most closely contested election in Senegal since gaining independence over six decades ago. 

What can be done?  

The political upheaval is yet another in a long series of crises for West Africa – a strategic area on a continent that America cannot afford to ignore. Yet despite numerous setbacks, including coups, troubled elections, and violence from insurgents, Senegal’s recent troubles also point to sources of democratic strength in the region that Washington cannot afford to let wither on the vine. 

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