December 7, 2022

Thousands protest in Senegal as elections draw closer and opposition leader prohibited from running

Macky Sall
President Macky Sall of Senegal

Thousands took to the streets Friday in Senegal to protest the decision to keep certain opposition candidates from being included in the nation’s July 31 parliamentary elections.

The protests resulted in a clash with police forces that led to the death of multiple protestors and the arrests of numerous opposition figures, according to opposition leader Ousmane Sonko‘s PASTEF party spokesman.

With elections in just six weeks, protestors defied a ban on demonstrations and showed their support for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko as roads leading to his home were closed off and barricaded. Protestors criticized Senegal President Macky Sall, calling him dictatorial for silencing the opposition movement and its candidates.

Across Senegal, tensions have been increasing since the constitutional council invalidated the opposition’s list of candidates for the upcoming elections. Ousmane Sonko and other opposition candidates are being kept from running.

President Macky Sall’s party, the Alliance for the Republic, currently holds a supermajority of 125 seats in Senegal’s 165 seat National Assembly.

Many argue that keeping opposition candidates from running would be a tremendous step backward in Senegal which has been regarded as one of Africa’s more democratic nations.

“Senegal is one of Africa’s most stable electoral democracies and has undergone peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000. However, politically motivated prosecutions of opposition leaders and changes to the electoral laws have reduced the competitiveness of the opposition in recent years,” said Freedom House in its 2022 report on Freedom in Senegal.

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