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Senegal - 2019 Election

Macky Salls popularity was particularly high in 2016 folllowing his proposal to reduce the presidential term from seven years to five. Mr Sall claimed he wanted to set an example within Africa, where many leaders cling to power beyond their term limits. But after the proposal won approval in a March 2016 referendum, the President announced that the reform would only apply once his term had ended in 2019, to the disappointment of his supporters.

While Senegal is a democracy and President Sall is widely respected in Africa and beyond, the country has its challenges. Regulatory enforcement is uneven and the indipendence of the judiciary system is controversial, particularly following arrest of the main political opponent of the President before the 2017 elections.

Campaigning began for presidential elections ahead of the first round on 24 February. Five candidates will contest the vote, including incumbent Macky Sall but two prominent opposition figures had been excluded. The five candidates for the 24 February first round:

  1. President Macky Sall APR (Alliance for the Republic)
  2. Opposition MP Ousmane Sonko PASTEF
  3. Former prime minister Idrissa Seck PDS (Senegalese Democratic Party)
  4. Madicke Niang, associate of former president Abdoulaye Wade PDS
  5. El Hadji Sall PDR(Parti Demain La Rpublique)

Senegals Constitutional Court on 20 January 2019 confirmed a list that barred former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and ex-minister Karim Wade from the election because of convictions for misuse of public funds. Sall, 63, one of Senegal's most popular politicians, was handed a five-year jail term in March 2018 for fraudulent use of public funds, a conviction that he said was politically motivated. He appealed it unsuccessfully. Wade, 50, was widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father, former president Abdoulaye Wade.

Thousands of supporters of both barred politicians have staged protests in recent months calling for fair and transparent elections while challenging the impartiality of the justice and interior ministries.

At the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, the EU deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the presidential election on 24 February 2019. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, has appointed Elena Valenciano, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.

On the occasion, High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini said: "The European Union is committed to supporting Senegal in consolidating its democratic institutions. I am confident that the assessment by our European Election Observation Mission under the leadership of Elena Valenciano will make an important contribution not only to the upcoming elections but also to future elections in the framework of our close and continued dialogue and partnership with Senegal."

Elena Valenciano added, "Deploying this Election Observation Mission demonstrates the strength of the EU-Senegal partnership and the importance of our common work in consolidating democracy and good governance. It also represents the continuity of our contribution to the observation of the previous Senegalese presidential electoral process held in 2012."

Senegal's ex-leader Abdoulaye Wade returned to the country ahead of this month's presidential elections, in which his son's candidacy has been rejected, and which incumbent Macky Sall was expected to win. Wade was President of Senegal from 2000 to 2012, with Sall as his prime minister from 2004 to 2007. The latter then defeated the former in the 2012 presidential elections, with Wade gaining widespread praise for conceding the loss and congratulating his opponent.

The presidential election was a duel dominated by two candidates - Macky Sall, Frances right-hand man in Africa, and Ousmane Sonko, 44, a son of a former militant of the Socialist Party, which ruled the West African country from Independence in 1960 until 2000. Sonko, born in This, is a graduate in Public Law of two prestigious institutions: the Gaston Berger University and the National School of Administration and Judiciary (ENAM). As a syndicalist turned politician, he became a stern critic of Macky Sall, whom he has accused of signing bad contracts worth billions of dollars with foreign conglomerates, including Total, a French multinational oil and gas company. Sonko says he will renegotiate these agreements.

Armed with economic ideas and plebeian ethos, surrounded with the masses and the young rising class of intellectuals and members of the African diaspora, who live, work, or study in the West, the leader of Les Patriotes was willing to dump the CFA (African Financial Community; former colonies of France in Africa), a monetary instrument set up by Charles de Gaulle for Frances African colonies in 1945. Educated, outspoken, charismatic, and not devoid of political vigor, Sonko was the candidate the French ruling elite fears.

Incumbent President Macky Sall on 28 February 2019 won a second term in office without having to compete in a second round runoff, according to Senegals electoral commission. However, it was not clear whether his opposition challengers would dispute the results and make a legal challenge. Sall received more than 58 per cent of the vote, said Demba Kandji, head of the countrys electoral commission. His nearest rival, former prime minister Idrissa Seck, secured over 20 per cent of the ballots, and Ousman Sonko, a former tax inspector who became an MP, placed third with 15 per cent, according to provisional results.

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