The much talked about Senegal’s presidential election is finally happening on the 24th of March 2024. The election previously scheduled to take place on February 25 could not hold due to a controversial decision by …"> The much talked about Senegal’s presidential election is finally happening on the 24th of March 2024. The election previously scheduled to take place on February 25 could not hold due to a controversial decision by …">
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From Near Democratic Decline Back to the Path of Restoration: All You Need to Know About Senegal’s March 24 Senegal Elections

Posted on  March 22, 2024 
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From Near Democratic Decline Back to the Path of Restoration: All You Need to Know About Senegal’s March 24 Senegal Elections

Photo Credit: John Wessels/AFP

The much talked about Senegal’s presidential election is finally happening on the 24th of March 2024. The election previously scheduled to take place on February 25 could not hold due to a controversial decision by the incumbent president, Macky Sall to postpone the elections to an unspecified date.

The postponement became a bone of contention in the West African country considered as one of the most stable democracies in the sub-region. It faced staunch rejection from opposition parties, civil society and citizens. Protests erupted and led to clashes between demonstrators and security forces resulting in 3 deaths.

President Sall however claimed that the postponement was necessary due to disputes surrounding the list of presidential candidates. The Constitutional council rejected his decision as we as a new law postponing the election to December 2024.

Following a series of legal back and forth, the Senegalese government announced March 24 as the new date of the delayed election.

The list of approved presidential candidates has been revised to 19 from the initial 20. This followed the resignation of one of the two female candidates from the presidential race. Below is a breakdown of the process and what you need to know as the country readies to vote.

Electoral System

The presidential election in Senegal is conducted using the two-round system. This means that in the occurrence that none of the presidential candidate is able to secure over 50% of the votes, the top two candidates with the highest votes will face off in a second round (run-off). Each president is entitled to a five-year renewable once. The presidential term was reduced from 7 years through a referendum in 2016.

Presidential Candidates

19 candidates have been approved to contest in the election. Notably, the incumbent, Macky Sall will not be on the ballot marking the first in Senegal’s history. His chosen successor, Prime Minister Amadou Ba is among the leading candidates as he leads the ruling party (Benno Bokk Yakaar) into this crucial election to choose the country’s new leader. Other leading candidates include former Dakar mayor Khalifa Ababacar Sall, Former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, Anta Babacar Ngom, Former Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, Former Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, and Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

The rest are Boubacar Camara, Aliou Mamadou Dia, Mamadou Lamine Diallo, El Had’i Mamadou Diao, Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, Dethie Fall, Papa Djibril Fall, El Hadji Malick Gakou, Serigne Mboup, Daouda Ndiaye, Thierno Alassane Sall and Habib Sy.

Who can vote?

An individual is qualified to exercise his or her franchise if they are 18 years and above, they are citizens of Senegal and have registered to vote. Naturalized citizens who do not hold any other nationality can also vote. Also, foreigners who have acquired Senegalese citizenship by marriage, unless opposed by government decree can also partake in voting.

In all, over 7.3 million registered voters are expected to take part in the election. Senegalese citizens abroad will also have the opportunity to vote for their preferred candidates in 37 diplomatic or consular jurisdictions across the world if they are registered to vote in those jurisdictions.

When will results be announced?

The electoral law stipulates that provisional results are announced on the Friday after voting day which in this case falls on March 29, 2024.

Aggrieved candidates may lodge electoral complaints with the Constitutional Council within 72 hours of the declaration of provisional results. The constitutional council is mandated to adjudicate electoral disputes within 5 days after a case is filed.

What are the key issues?

As is the case with every election, Senegalese citizens will consider a number of key issues in deciding who to vote for. The recent political impasse will be fresh in the minds of voters as they vote on Sunday. More than half the population of Senegal is aged under 25 which makes the issue of employment a key one in this electoral cycle especially post COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war which have affected several African economies. The issue of migration and the cost-of-living crisis will also take a center-stage with a third of the Senegal population living in poverty according to the World Bank.

Lastly, Senegalese voters will also go to the polls to decide how their new oil fortune will benefit the 17 million population.

Will there be a second round?

Analysts believe the recent political crisis has added to the economic situation to make the ruling coalition relatively unpopular. Coupled with the historic absence of the incumbent president from the ballot due to term limits, this may lead to an open race which could result in a second round of voting among the top 2 candidates in the first round.

Follow the African Elections Project on Facebook and Twitter @Africanelection for more updates. 


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