DAfter two months, the Senegalese are once again called to the polls for the long-awaited legislative elections. But in recent days, the political context has become tense. Indeed, the Constitutional Council decided, Friday evening, June 3, to reject the appeals of the main opposition coalition, “Yewwi askan wi”, against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior not to register the national list of this coalition, deemed inadmissible. This decision amounts to dismissing some of the opposition figures from the July 31 elections, including Ousmane Sonko, third in the 2019 presidential election and declared candidate for that of 2024. The current Assembly is largely dominated by the presidential coalition.
Final decision of the Constitutional Council
This decision alarms a number of analysts, worried about a political deadlock and the risk of protest. It was taken after weeks of confusion over the validation of electoral lists, starting with the admissibility of the lists of the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi (“Let’s free the people”) and the presidential majority Benno Bokk Yaakkar (BBY) .
The Senegalese elect their 150 deputies according to a method that mixes proportional voting with national lists for 53 parliamentarians, and majority voting in the departments for 97 others. The diaspora elects 15 deputies.
For the proportional vote, the organizations present a list of holders and a list of substitutes.
The Ministry of the Interior validated eight national lists on May 30. But he declared “inadmissible” the list of holders of Yewwi Askan Wi. He did the same with Benno Bokk Yaakkar’s list of alternates, but the move was seen as far less consequential, with the main majority candidates remaining in the running. On the contrary, Ousmane Sonko is dismissed.
The authorities reproach its list for the ineligibility of one of its candidates, appearing inadvertently both among the incumbents and the alternates. They accuse that of Benno Bokk Yaakkar of breaching the rules of gender parity.
The constitutional judges confirmed these decisions by rejecting the appeals lodged against them. Déthié Fall, representative of Yewwi Askan Wi, quoted in the daily The Observer, believes that their decision “puts us in an unprecedented situation of elections with half of the list”. He said the coalition would quickly “assess the situation”.
Call to protest
Yewwi Askan Wi has denounced in recent days an attempt by President Macky Sall to eliminate him from the elections under cover of legal means. At the end of May, when the validation of the list was already in question, Ousmane Sonko had called on young people, among whom he is popular, to “stand up” and had considered the possibility of going to “dislodge” President Sall from the presidential palace. if necessary, according to comments reported by the press. His party had entered into an alliance with the Wallu Senegal coalition (Save Senegal in the Wolof language) led by ex-president Abdoulaye Wade. The least well-placed coalition in one department undertakes to support the other with the objective of “imposing a governmental cohabitation on Macky Sall”.
The president restored the post of prime minister in December 2021. But he has still not appointed a head of government. Macky Sall said in a recent interview with the magazine Young Africa that he would choose it after the legislative elections within the formation which will have won them. Elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, the Senegalese head of state also said that after these elections he would lift the vagueness on whether or not he would be a candidate for a third term in 2024.
Before the constitutional decision, the opposition was already calling for demonstrations on Wednesday June 8 in an economic context undermined by rising prices of basic necessities. This call is reminiscent of the context in which the judicial accusation of Ousmane Sonko in a case of alleged rape had contributed in March 2021 to several days of riots which had left at least a dozen dead.