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Friday, July 19, 2024
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The Senegalese political tragedy (Part 2)

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Manipulation of the people to further one’s political cause?

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By Diomaye Ndongo Faye

Is Pastef and its leadership plunging the country into chaos at all costs?

Our country, like the overwhelming majority of African countries, is sitting on a social time bomb: Mismanagement by their state, for structural reasons, of the demographic dividend or in other words the inability of the State/country to create optimal conditions for the absorption of the vast majority of well-educated and skilled young people who enter the labor market each year.

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Opinion leaders, be they politicians, religious, or civil society in the country, will have to do everything to not be the cause of the production of the spark that can set off this bomb. Political leaders must absolutely refrain, in their efforts to conquer or retain power, from giving our youth, at the height of their frustration, any reason to express their anger against the government by resorting to violence. Rather than doing everything to prevent this bomb from exploding and setting the Senegalese society ablaze with all the harmful consequences that this can cause for the country and the Sahel region, Ousmane Sonko and his supporters seem to be taking advantage of the despair of Senegalese youth to accede to power as quickly as possible. The development of the culture of the “gatsa gatsa” attitude is a danger for Senegal. It is a tactic that can certainly be used to mobilize a youth disoriented by the perverse effects of the non-viability and vulnerability of the overwhelming majority of African states, but it is a way of digging the grave of the political current that use it to gain power.

In a republic, only the state has the right to use violence. It goes without saying that many crooked politicians have abused the trust of their people and resorted to an ill-holy use of violence, but the only justifiable and sustainable reaction to such an abuse that is meted out to the citizens of a democratic republic is the ballot, as long as that franchise option is made available – not a club, a machete, a Molotov cocktail or whatever.

The absence of a condemnation of the acts of vandalism and chaos that have arisen each time Ousmane Sonko has been treated in a way that his supporters perceive as an abuse of power is disturbing to me. Ousmane Sonko, who aspires to the supreme office of our country, should be the first to unreservedly condemn this expression of a total lack of civism. Any other attitude, silence or encouragement makes the leaders of Pastef the chief gravediggers of any possibility of governing in peace when the Senegalese people entrust them with the heavy task of managing their state. What these thugs do not know is that it is themselves and their families who will pay through taxes and loans in the name of Senegal, the damage they are causing, especially the destruction of public properties and critical social assets directly benefitting the ordinary people, like the Sheikh Anta Diop University. A Pulaar proverb that was shared with me by a Pulaar teacher friend who lives here in upstate New York says that “So ñiiwa ene habaa e ñiwaako hudo booretee” (when two elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers regardless of the outcome of the battle, regardless of who is right or wrong”. It is the Senegalese baadolo who will pay the price for the violent confrontations between Macky Sall and Ousmane Sonko through the dozens of avoidable casualties but also through taxes, cuts in state social services and many other ways.

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A warning and concluding recommendations

To conclude I would say this: It is long overdue for the Duo Macky Sall-Ousmane Sonko to come to their senses for the higher interest of the Senegalese nation but also for the Africans who use Senegal as an example to prove to their compatriots that the Democratic Republic is possible in Africa south of the Sahara. The sages of my Wolof cousins say that “alal du doy, doylu moy alal”. President Macky Sall and his companions must carefully weigh this Wolof saying and significantly reduce their intention to keep power to preserve their material interests. With regard to Ousmane Sonko and some of his “Yewi Askan Wi” coalition partners, it is important to take ownership of this lesson that world political history has taught us: you will lose power by the way in which you acquired it.

The tragedy always ends with the death of one of the two protagonists who are stuck in it. The socio-economic and material damage for Senegal will be incalculable, if Macky Sall and Ousmane Sonko know the outcome of the vast majority of tragedies. It is time, Mr. President of the Republic, to remind you that by entrusting you alone with the right to exercise violence, the Senegalese people did not want you to use this right for your personal gain and/or those of your companions. Over to you Ousmane Sonko, I advise you doing everything to avoid jeopardizing the governability of Senegal by the elected people.

We are only at the beginning of this already very painful play for the families who have lost one of their own in the violent demonstrations linked to it. You two can avoid a more tragic end in Senegal by making the peace of the brave. President Sall, make it clear to your companions who fear losing the privileges that come with the maintenance of power by the APR/BBY that nothing is eternal, especially the advantages linked to accession to power in a democratic republic. Ousmane Sonko, tell the members of Pastef and your coalition supporters that without a culture of respect for public goods and the rejection of any recourse to violence, whatever the injustices committed by those in power, no party or coalition that reaches the top of our country’s political pyramid will be able to benefit from the climate of social peace without which economic prosperity is impossible.

To my brothers and sisters who brandish the argument that Ousmane Sonko and the Pastef will destroy our republic if they come to power, I would say this: you think in that manner because you either have a negative subjective attitude towards Ousmane Sonko and/or Pastef or a limited knowledge of the history of democracy. First, you have no proof of the intentions that you attribute to Ousmane Sonko and his party. Second, even if Ousmane Sonko had these intentions, it is up to the Senegalese people to decide whether or not they trust him to occupy the highest office in their country. Any intention to snatch this decision from the Senegalese people, whatever the means used to do so, constitutes a danger for the peaceful political development of the Senegalese Republic and must therefore be vigorously condemned. Replacing the Senegalese people in the process of choosing the person to whom they will hand over the Presidency of the Republic in 2024 is neither less nor more than an administrative coup d’état and therefore a constitutional crime against our republic.

Diomaye Ndongo Faye is a consultant in Political Strategy Development based in

Princeton, New Jersey, United States.

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