WADEMOS strongly opposes Senegalese Parliament’s decision to postpone February elections
The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), a network of over 45 pro-democracy national and transnational civil society organizations has strongly opposed the decision by the Senegalese Parliament to postpone the February 25 elections until December 15.
WADEMOS condemned the unfair and non-inclusive manner in which the vote was secured in the Senegalese Parliament.
A statement issued by WADEMOS, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency said the new date, which unconstitutionally extends the term of President Macky Sall, sets a dangerous and unlawful precedent for Senegal and the region.
It said having monitored and followed with keen interest and concern the recent political developments in Senegal, stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters and the civil society community in Senegal in their just opposition to President Macky Sall’s decision to postpone the country’s Presidential election originally scheduled for February 25, 2024.
It stated that the unilateral action of President Macky Sall, which had thrust his country into a needless political and constitutional crisis, represents a disappointing setback for Senegal, a blot on the image of a country that has made steady and exemplary progress in building a stable democratic society underpinned by respect for the rule of law and an unbroken tradition of regular, free, fair and inclusive elections.
It said while they take note of the reasons offered by President Sall for his unprecedented action, they underscore the concerns and objections raised by Senegalese civil society and a broad spectrum of Senegalese political society, including, notably, that the President’s action affronts the Constitution of Senegal in multiple ways.
The statement said the President’s unilateral action, announced when scheduled elections were less than a month away, also contravenes the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, Section 2, Article 2(1) which expressly frowns upon any reform or change in the electoral laws or processes “six months preceding elections, without the consent of a large majority of political players.”
“We support calls by Senegalese civil society and pro-democracy actors for a new date for the presidential elections to be promptly settled through an inclusive process,” it said.
“We wish to remind President Sall of the pledge he made to the people of Senegal, in his address to the nation on July 3, 2023, that he has no desire or intention to stay in power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated term.”
The statement said WADEMOS endorses the urgent calls to cease the ongoing arrests or detention of opposition candidates, attacks on Members of Parliament (MPs) who oppose extension of elections beyond President Sall’s term, the shutdown of media and crackdown on free expression, and threats to the independence of the Constitutional Council.
It urged the people of Senegal to keep their protests peaceful and non-violent, and entreat the state authorities to exercise maximum restraint, consistent with respect for the sanctity of human life, in the manner of their response to citizens who were merely exercising their democratic and constitutional right to express their justified displeasure and anger at these disturbing developments.
It implored all segments of Senegalese society to work together to find a peaceful and quick resolution to the crisis provoked by the President’s action.
It said conscious of accusations of double standards levelled against ECOWAS regarding its different responses to antidemocratic or unconstitutional acts depending on the identity or nature of the perpetrator, we strongly urge ECOWAS to seize this opportunity to send an unequivocal message that it stands resolute in its commitment to defend democracy and the tule of law in the region and enforce its Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, without fear or favour, affection or ill will toward any regime or political leader. ECOWAS must not let the people of Senegal and the region down.
WADEMOS is an independent and a nonpartisan network of diverse national and transnational civil society organizations and civic groups working to promote and defend democracy, good governance, and inclusive development in the West Africa region.
WADEMOS mobilizes, coordinates, and leverages the collective voice and power of civil society and other pro-democracy actors, resources, and opportunities within the West Africa region to advance its mission.
The current membership of WADEMOS stands at 47, spreading across West Africa.
The WADEMOS Secretariat is based in Accra, Ghana.