Senegal: The Church Plays the Appeasement Card

Source: FSSPX News

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye

The leader of the Catholic Church in Senegal calls for appeasement and respect for the constitution after riots broke out in Dakar due to the indefinite postponement of the presidential elections scheduled for February 25, 2024. Macky Sall, the strong man of the country, is suspected of wanting to remain in power despite the disavowal of a notable part of the population.

“Like many of our fellow citizens, I am disturbed by what is happening.” The concern is palpable on the face of Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye on February 4, 2024, when clashes broke out in the Senegalese capital, “between the security forces and demonstrators who responded to the opposition parties’ call to take to the streets to protest against the postponement of the presidential elections.”

The day before, the Senegalese head of state, Macky Sall, announced the postponement of the vote which was to be held on February 25: “My solemn commitment not to run in the election remains unchanged,” he specified in his speech of February 3; he promised to initiate “an open national dialogue in order to create the conditions for free, transparent and inclusive elections in a peaceful and reconciled Senegal.” These are resolutions for which no timetable has yet posted.

One of the reasons for the political crisis the country is experiencing lies in the exclusion from the presidential vote of a contender to succeed Macky Sall: Karim Wade, son of former president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), was excluded by the Senegalese Constitutional Council on January 20. At issue: his late renunciation of his French nationality. Being exclusively Senegalese is one of the necessary conditions to run.

Karim Wade's camp was quick to denounce a case of corruption and conflict of interest concerning two constitutional judges, thus igniting the flare-up in the streets.

Alluding to the attitude of the Head of State, the Archbishop of Dakar warns: “The Senegalese people must avoid the technique of evasion. If there is a rule, it must be followed. If we respect it, we can move forward.”

Because behind this sudden postponement of the presidential election, the head of state is suspected of wanting to remain in power although he made the assurance, on July 3, 2023, that he would renounce running for a third term which is opposed by a notable party of Senegalese people demanding his departure.

For Archbishop Ndiaye, “It is important that we try to experience national cohesion. Institutions must be respectable and respected in their mission so that we can move forward together. What is most important to me is that Senegal lives according to its Constitution.”

To make matters worse, another leading political actor was excluded from the presidential race. On January 4, Ousmane Sonko was sentenced to six months in prison for defamartion and declared ineligible for five years. However, this personality is a very popular figure among

Senegalese youth for his positions against the corruption of the head of state and the influence, considered negative, of France in the country.

The postponement of the presidential elections is an event that has not occurred since 1963 in Senegal, a country which has never experienced a coup d'état, a rare occurrence on the African continent.

A few days after the announcement by the Senegalese head of state, the news media Jeune Afrique headlined "Macky Sall joins the putsch clan,” in reference to Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger which in recent years have experienced putsches leading to the establishment of military juntas, reshuffling the cards in the region, under the more than interested eye of certain foreign powers including Russia and China.

In this country of 17 million inhabitants, Islam is the majority religion at around 96%, and the Christian minority, mainly Catholic, represents 3% of the population.