Press urge re-elected president to revive democracy in Senegal

Senegal was a democratic island in the region, but that democratic standing has been “brought to the ground
President of Senegal, Macky Sall
Senegalese President Macky Sall speaks at a joint press conference during the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Lintao Zhang / POOL / AFP)

Senegal’s press on Friday hailed the re-election of President Macky Sall as “no surprise” after provisional results were released, and urged him to revive a battered democracy.

The daily L’Enquete reported a “triumph for Macky Sall” on the strength of 58.27 percent of poll results on Thursday from the first round on February 24, while Sud Quotidien called it a “knock-out blow” by the trained geologist turned politician.

The election results still need to be validated by the Constitutional Court to be definitive in a country often presented as a haven of democracy, due process and peace in West Africa. 

“What is certain is that the Senegalese people voted by a strong majority for the candidate” of the presidential coalition.

The opposition “has been incapable of producing figures to prove that those published by the proper institutions and passed on by the press are wrong”, L’Enquete said.

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The private daily L’AS said that Sall’s victory was “no surprise” and Sud Quotidien considered it “predictable”. He first took power after an election win in 2012, beating then octogenarian leader Abdoulaye Wade. 

The road to success was in part laid, however, by electoral reforms that included a requirement for candidates to prove that they were backed by a minimum number of citizens and regions.

Opposition politicians criticised such “one-sided measures” that stood in their way.

The popular former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, the son of Sall’s predecessor Wade (2000-2012), met the criteria but were both disqualified over convictions for misuse of public funds.

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Until the election, “Senegal was a democratic island” in the region, but that democratic standing has been “brought to the ground”, Le Quotidien said in an editorial.

“Since 2000, the winner of the presidential election has always been congratulated (by rivals)… but in 2019, the four opposition candidates have decided to reject the results,” the newspaper said.

The election sidelined both the parties that long dominated politics since independence from France in 1960 — the Socialist Party and the Senegalese Democratic Party — which presented no presidential candidates.

“It would be salutary for President Macky Sall to undertake a sincere and inclusive dialogue with the opposition,” concluded Le Quotidien.

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The election sidelined both the parties that long dominated politics since independence from France in 1960 — the Socialist Party and the Senegalese Democratic Party — which presented no presidential candidates.


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