Categories: Africa

Senegal: Behind the struggle over the election schedule

In the midst of big economic, military and political struggles, the people of Senegal are demanding a presidential election as soon as possible. On Feb. 2, Macky Sall, the incumbent president since 2012, postponed the election scheduled for Feb. 25.

Dakar, February 24

Presidents have served in Senegal for long, stable terms. Since Senegal gained independence from French imperialism in 1960, the first three presidents served for 20, 19 and 12 years, respectively.

The Confederation for Democracy and Socialism, a coalition of nine popular parties, in a Feb. 2 statement released in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, wrote: “For the CDS member parties, postponing the elections is not only legally impossible but also politically inappropriate. There is no institutional crisis in the country, no interruption in the regular functioning of institutions that could justify such a postponement.” They demanded that Sall schedule the election for Feb. 25.

A Feb. 24 demonstration supported this demand, according to El Salto, a left-wing Spanish newspaper: “‘We took to the streets to ask Macky Sall to call elections before April 2,’ explained Ana, 32 years old. She was taking part in a peaceful protest in favor of the party of the opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, imprisoned since June 2023, attended by several hundred people on February 24 in the center of Dakar.”

More demonstrations in Dakar protested the election postponement in early March. The struggle over scheduling the election is really a struggle over letting the party in power, the Alliance for the Republic, rig the elections.

Senegal is a member of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, along with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. In its 50 years, ECOWAS has been the regional organization coordinating the economic development of its members.

Growing opposition to imperialism in Africa

In recent years, especially since NATO crushed the Libyan government and left an unstable Libya, there has been growing political instability in much of the region. Armed reactionary groups threatened the stability of many of the countries, which remained under the domination of French and U.S. imperialism, especially.

ECOWAS’ member countries had vastly unequal development. For example, the much more populous Nigeria has a trillion dollar annual economy, while Niger’s is $55 billion. ECOWAS, which National Public Radio refers to as “Africa’s EU” (European Union) became less useful.

Popular opposition to the continued economic domination by French imperialism grew, and recent changes in the governments of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger resulted in demands that French troops leave.

Senegal has some beautiful beaches and other tourist attractions that the political instability in its eastern neighbor Mali affects; it has universities with international reputations. Senegal is viewed by some as the arts, fashion and culture capital of the continent. It has a rich history in literature, cinema, art and music. There is some mining, particularly for gold.

But its economy is still based on agriculture and fishing, and French imperialism in particular still has deep hooks into its politics.

G. Dunkel

G.Dunkel@workers.org

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G. Dunkel
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