Senegal civil society, opposition unite for vote before April 2Thu, 29 Feb 2024 16:00:07 GMT

A major Senegalese civil society collective said Thursday it was joining forces with the opposition to ensure the presidential election is held before April 2, when President Macky Sall’s mandate runs out.The traditionally stable West African country plunged into its worst turmoil in decades after Sall’s last-minute deferral of the presidential election, that was due to take place last Sunday.The Aar Sunu Election (Protect our Election) collective said it was joining with a group of 16 of the 19 candidates approved by the Constitutional Council to stand in the presidential poll.It is also uniting with the opposition coalition F24 and the Front for the Defence of Democracy.”This unity of action should make it possible to carry out collective actions in synergy to avoid the dispersal of forces fighting against the current coup d’etat,” the civil society platform said in a statement. Earlier on Thursday, President Sall reiterated he would stand down as planned on April 2, seemingly rejecting one of the conclusions of his own political talks aimed at settling weeks of crisis.Following deadly protests and after Senegal’s top constitutional body overruled Sall’s election delay, the president launched a two-day “national dialogue” on Monday to find a new election date.The conclusions recommended that the election be held on June 2, two months after Sall’s mandate expires, and that he remain in office until his successor is installed.- ‘Step up the fight’ -The president, who has been in power since 2012 but is not seeking a third term, said on Wednesday that he would seek the opinion of Senegal’s Constitutional Council on the conclusions.But on Thursday, he reiterated that the his departure date remained “absolutely firm”.”The national dialogue has proposed June 2, 2024 as the new date for Senegal’s presidential elections,” Sall posted on X, formerly Twitter. “However, I would like to make it clear that I will be leaving office at the end of my term on April 2, as I have already indicated,” he added. Sall has repeated several times that he would step down at the beginning of April.But on Monday, he left open the possibility of an extension. “If there’s a consensus, I’m prepared, in the best interests of the nation, to take it upon myself to stay on even if it’s not my choice,” he said. Senegal’s constitution makes no provision for a possible scenario in which Sall leaves office on April 2, with an election only taking place two months later. “Faced with this situation, which risks plunging our country into indescribable social instability, the platform has decided to step up the fight,” Aar Sunu Election said.The collective, comprising over 100 civil society groups, said Sall continued “in his refusal to respect the republican calendar and constitutional legality”.