A West African pro-democracy coalition, the West Africa Democracy Solidarity (WADEMOS) Network, has demanded an end to the crackdown on opposition political candidates, and media outlets in Senegal following the political crisis that hit the country.
Senegal’s parliament, on Monday, voted extending the tenure of President Macky Sall until a new presidential election is held in December.
Mr Sall was due to relinquish power on 2 April, following a botched attempt to extend his tenure beyond the constitutionally permitted limit.
But, a few weeks before the scheduled 25 February presidential poll, Mr Sall announced the postponement of the election, plunging Senegal into a political crisis.
ECOWAS, a West African regional body, has since denounced the postponement of the election, urging a return to the electoral calendar.
Lending its voice to the unfolding situation, WADEMOS, a coalition of 47 civil society organisations, in a statement issued on Wednesday, opposed “the decision by the Senegalese parliament to postpone the elections until December 15, 2024.”
It condemned “the unfair and non-inclusive manner in which the vote was secured,” where opposition members of Parliament were forcibly taken away by the police. “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.”
WADEMOS, a network of over 45 pro-democracy national and transnational civil society organisations in the West Africa region, reminded Mr Sall of his pledge last July to Senegalese not to stay beyond the statutorily allowed term.
Keep protests peaceful
While declaring its support for the Senegalese people and the CSOs in the country, WADEMOS called peaceful protests.
It advised security forces in the country “to cease the ongoing arrests or detention of opposition candidates, attacks on MPs who oppose the 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.”
The coalition urged ECOWAS to send an “unequivocal message that it stands resolute in its commitment to defend democracy and the rule 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.”
It added that “ECOWAS must not let the people of Senegal and the region down.”
The coalition decried Mr Sall’s unilateral action in orchestrating the postponement of the election.
It said the president’s action has blighted Senegal’s democratic credential of a country with an “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.”
Dismissing Mr Sall’s rationale for truncating the electoral process, WADEMOS noted that “the president’s action affronts the constitution of the Republic of Senegal in multiple ways.”
“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.”
Some of the members of WADEMOS include – West Africa Civil Society Initiative (WACSI), West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Yiaga Africa (Nigeria), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Others are, Institute Sahelien pour la Gouvernance, Statview International (Guinea)ABLOGUE, Citoyen pour la Paix et la Justice (Guinea), Femmes Actions et Developpement (Niger), Alternative Espace Citoyen (Niger).
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.Donate
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999