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Senegal opposition rejects June 2 election date and extension of Macky Sall’s term

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Senegalese opposition leaders rejected a proposal for the nation’s postponed elections to be held on June 2 and that President Macky Sall’s term be extended until a successor is appointed.

The date was put forward by political, religious and civil society leaders after two days of negotiations aimed at ending weeks of tensions sparked by Sall’s February 3 decision to delay the vote. Sixteen of the 19 opposition candidates on the ballot boycotted the talks.

“Even if the dialogue reaches a consensus, it cannot overrule the law,” Thierno Alassane Sall, a former minister and presidential candidate, said in a post on X. “Holding the presidential election after April 2 is against the constitution.”

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Wrangling over the date for elections that were supposed to take place on February 25 has destabilised Senegal.

Sall’s term expires on April 2, and while the president has previously said he plans to abide by a Constitutional Council ruling that he must step down by that date, he’s yet to respond to the proposal that he remain in power. Prolonging his stay in office risks provoking renewed protests.

“I hope that the Constitutional Council will remind him of the law and that ultimately President Macky Sall will organse the polls before leaving,” said former Prime Minister Aminata Touré, a leading opposition member who was once a close Sall ally. “By seeking to set the date to June 2, it opens up institutional uncertainty which could lead to an institutional crisis.”

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A spokesman at the presidency said Sall would consult with the government about the proposed new date.

 “The Constitutional Council was very clear that the president’s term ends April 2 and his mandate can’t be extended,” said Babacar Ndiaye, a political analyst with the West Africa think tank Wathi. “I don’t see how they can backtrack on their decision.”

Senegal’s constitution states that the office of the president passes to the parliamentary speaker in the event of a vacancy and fresh elections must be held within 90 days. The nation’s laws provide for a campaign spanning three weeks and say a vote must be held at least one month before the president’s term expires.

Bloomberg

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