African PoliticsGeneral NewsSpotlight

Senegal Prepares for Presidential Election this Sunday After Delays and Uncertainty

Listen to this Article Now
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Spread the love

Senegal is gearing up for a pivotal presidential election this Sunday, marked by intense competition and heightened political tensions, putting one of West Africa’s most stable democracies to the test.

The presidential contest comes after a period of uncertainty, triggered by President Macky Sall’s unsuccessful attempt to postpone the Feb. 25 vote until year-end, leading to violent protests.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s election, the release of top opposition leader Ousmane Sonko from prison last week sparked jubilant celebrations in Dakar and injected renewed enthusiasm into the electoral process.

This election marks Senegal’s fourth democratic transfer of power since gaining independence from France in 1960, underscoring its reputation as a bastion of stability in a region marred by numerous coups and coup attempts.

However, concerns have been raised about the democratic integrity of the process, with rights groups accusing Sall’s government of stifling media freedom, civil society, and opposition voices. The election has been described as the longest and most violent in the country’s history, with numerous arrests and clashes reported.

Despite the challenges, 19 candidates are vying for the presidency, the highest number in Senegal’s history. Among them are former prime ministers, allies of Sonko, and prominent political figures, with a runoff between leading contenders anticipated.

Unemployment remains a pressing issue, particularly for the country’s youth, who make up a significant portion of the population. Poverty levels are high, prompting thousands to seek opportunities abroad, often undertaking perilous journeys.

Amidst the political turmoil, analysts predict that former prime minister Amadou Ba and Sonko-backed Bassirou Diomaye Faye will emerge as front-runners. Sonko’s disqualification from the ballot earlier this year has stirred controversy, with his supporters alleging government interference.

The election also sees the participation of notable figures like Idrissa Seck and Khalifa Sall, both with extensive political backgrounds. Anta Babacar Ngom, the sole female candidate, faces an uphill battle in gaining significant traction.

Recent moves by Sall to release Sonko and Faye have helped ease tensions, raising hopes for a peaceful election. Civil society observers anticipate a relatively calm voting process compared to the turbulent lead-up.