Photos credit: Isseu Diouf Campbell
Senegalese New Yorkers, mainly members of the political party PASTEF led by opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, rallied at Times Square on February 15, 2023, to denounce what they call President Macky Sall’s abuse of power.
The incumbent president, who got into power in 2012 after Senegalese citizens rejected President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a third term, has already completed two terms and, according to the Senegalese constitution, is not allowed to run in the 2024 presidential elections.
His election in 2012 was made possible when several opposition parties formed a coalition to help him win during the second round opposing him to Wade.
After his reelection in 2019, several members of his administration interviewed by the press about his eligibility for the 2024 elections were terminated when they stated that Sall couldn’t run a third time.
Macky Sall, who changed the constitution at the beginning of his term to keep anyone aspiring for more than two terms from running, has been very silent about his potential candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections.
Sall is also known for jailing any candidate who might be a threat to his reelection. President Abdoulaye Wade’s son Karim Wade and former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall, who had presidential ambitions, were both imprisoned on corruption charges before the 2019 presidential elections. Sall pardoned them after his reelection.
The one who might stand between another stay at the presidential palace in the next elections is the leader of the Senegalese opposition Ousmane Sonko. While eliminating him on corruption charges was deemed impossible, Sonko was accused, in 2021, of raping Adji Sarr, a spa worker.
The case, which has led to extensive press coverage, fell flat when Adji Sarr herself was heard on tape admitting the plot to her religious leader.
Sonko, who announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections in 2022, is systematically harassed by law enforcement while on the campaign trail. On his way to a meeting on February 16, 2023, a law enforcement agent is seen breaking the glass of Sonko’s car and forcing him out. Sonko was later taken to his house without explanation.
Besides Ousmane Sonko, several Senegalese journalists and activists have been targeted and imprisoned by the Sall administration for voicing their opinion.
Many Senegalese citizens, home and abroad, are afraid that all this abuse sets the stage for a third term for the one who came into power because Senegalese voters didn’t want former President Abdoulaye Wade to have one.