In Senegal, there is relief after Macky Sall’s decision not to run in 2024

The Senegalese president’s decision not to run for a third term in 2024 sparked many reactions of relief on Tuesday, in Senegal and internationally, in a political climate that has become explosive in recent months.

A salutary announcement in a climate of strong political tension. It is in these terms that many Senegalese on Tuesday 4 July described President Macky Sall’s decision, the day before, not to stand for a third term in February 2024.

A flurry of reactions, also international, hailed the statesman and a decision to appease a country that experienced its worst problems in years at the beginning of June. The opposition qualified this chorus of praise and highlighted the role of all “sacrificed” lives in demonstrations in defense of democracy and now called for “inclusive elections”.

“My dear countrymen, my long and carefully considered decision is not to be a candidate for the next election on February 25, 2024,” Macky Sall said on Monday night in a speech to the nation that ended a long month of tension.

#DiskursSnMy dear compatriots, my long and carefully considered decision is not to be a candidate for the next election on February 25, 2024. And this, even though the constitution gives me the right to do so.

— Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) July 3, 2023

The vagueness maintained by President Sall regarding his intentions in relation to this election and the two-year prison sentence of one of his main opponents, Ousmane Sonko, had contributed to making the situation explosive.

The conviction of the opponent in a sex case, which incapacitates him as it stands, caused serious unrest in early June, killing 16 people according to the authorities, 24 according to Amnesty International and 30 according to the opposition. The opponent had on Sunday night called for mobilization, regardless of the outcome of the speech, to wage “the definitive battle”.

For Ousmane Sonko, Macky Sall’s main goal is to remove him from the presidential election.

“A wise and beneficial decision”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter that the decision “sets a very important example for his country and for the rest of the world”.

Moussa Faki, President of the African Union Commission, welcomed “a wise and beneficial decision”. “I express my admiration for the great statesman that he is for privileging the best interests of Senegal and thus preserving the Senegalese democratic model which is the pride of Africa,” he said.

2/2: I express my admiration to the great statesman that he is for privileging the best interests of #Senegal and thus preserving the Senegalese democratic model which is the pride of Africa.

— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) July 3, 2023

The Bissau-Guinean head of state, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, current president of the Organization of West African States “proudly salutes his courageous decision as a great statesman”, he said on his social networks. .

Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, “expresses the wish that this carefully considered decision will definitively calm the political climate in this fraternal country”.

Paris also welcomed its decision, assessing that “Senegal once again demonstrates the solidity of its long democratic tradition,” according to a press release from the French Foreign Ministry.

In Senegal, the president is on the front page of all newspapers. “Macky, what greatness!”, “Macky walks through the front door”, “Macky in the pantheon of great men”… among other headlines.

“I have a feeling of relief, of pride because the development of Senegalese democracy has taken some courage… The outlook is good,” said business manager Hassame Drabo in Dakar.

“His speech changes many things. Senegal has become stable and governable. I am 200% satisfied,” said Issa Camara, who works in the maritime sector.

“Sacrifices that were not in vain”

For Alioune Tine, civil society figure and ardent opponent of a third term, it is “a liberation”. Macky Sall “comes out of the front door with a great speech”. Abdoul Mbaye, former Prime Minister, shares “great emotions” and a speech that allows him “to find a big part of Macky Sall” in April 2012.

Opponents have nuanced these pride reactions.

“I congratulate the Senegalese youth, the diaspora and all Senegalese democrats. Because if President Macky has agreed to throw in the towel (…) it is because there have been Senegalese who have risen up against it”, Aminata responded Touré, former prime minister who joined the opposition.

Opponent Khalifa Sall hailed “a great decision”, thought of all the deaths in protests since 2021, about fifty, “victims who have not been in vain” and pleaded for “an inclusive election”.

Ousmane Sonko’s spokesman simply tweeted “Focus 2024” with the portrait of its leader.

Ousmane Sonko, who enjoys great popularity among young people, has never stopped shouting that the authorities are plotting – which he denies – to eliminate him politically. He has been blocked by the security forces at his home in Dakar, “kidnapped” according to him, since May 28.


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