Senegalese President Macky Sall, amidst growing political discord, has formally stated that he will not seek re-election for a third term in the upcoming 2024 election.
His announcement is likely to alleviate growing concerns of an undermining of democracy in the West African nation.
Sall, who first assumed office in 2012, was re-elected in 2019. According to Sall, he could have legally contested for a third term, saying the nation’s constitution would have allowed him to campaign for the presidency again. However, he dismissed the idea of running again in the 2024 elections on Monday, July 3rd, in a speech that was live-streamed on Facebook.
Sall said, “I have a clear awareness and memory of what I have said, written and repeated, here and elsewhere, namely that the 2019 term was my second and final term. I have a code of honor and a sense of historical responsibility that compels me to stand by my dignity and my word.”
President Sall’s announcement has laid to rest speculation regarding his political intentions, which had sparked fatal protests.
These upheavals were driven by fears that Sall, like some of his regional counterparts, would manipulate the constitution to prolong his presidency, a trend observed in countries like Ivory Coast and Togo.
The 61-year-old leader’s intentions had been vague, fueling concerns that he may extend his time in power. His silence had triggered sporadic unrest since 2021, leading to numerous casualties.
His initial triumph in 2012 was against former President Abdoulaye Wade, whose contested bid for a third term incited violent protests. Wade, who had mentored Sall, eventually acknowledged defeat after a runoff vote.
Sall’s affirmation may halt the agitation, as he hasn’t yet nominated a political successor. His fiercest opponent, Ousmane Sonko, has depicted Sall as a potential tyrant and was recently sentenced to two years in prison, a conviction which bars him from the 2024 race.
Sall has requested the government to ensure a transparent election process in the forthcoming poll. Many Regional leaders, Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, Umaro Sissoco, and Moussa Faki Mahamat of the African Union Commission, have lauded Sall’s decision, foreseeing it as a pacifying move.
Aminata Toure, former Prime Minister of Senegal, argues that it was the democratic demonstrations that pressured Sall to renounce his re-election bid.
She said, “He is just applying the constitution. He should have said that the minute he got re-elected in 2019. This would have saved the country all the turmoil and the trouble we went through.”