President Macky Sall on Wednesday opened a “national dialogue” aimed at lowering political tensions in Senegal, nine months before the 2024 presidential election. “The State is and will remain standing to protect the Nation, the Republic and the institutions”, declared the Head of State during this meeting boycotted by part of the opposition.
Senegalese President Macky Sall promised, Wednesday, May 31, the firmness of the State in the face of growing tensions as a verdict against opponent Ousmane Sonko approaches, with the February 2024 presidential election in the background.
“I would like to reassure (as to the fact) that the State is and will remain standing to protect the Nation, the Republic and the institutions”, he declared in Dakar by opening a “national dialogue” supposed to attenuate these tensions and associating the presidential camp, part of the opposition, representatives of economic circles, civil society and religions.
This dialogue, boycotted by part of the opposition, opens the day before the expected verdict against Ousmane Sonko, presidential candidate engaged for months in a fierce showdown with power.
Ousmane Sonko is accused of rape by an employee of a beauty salon where he was going to get a massage. He shouts at the conspiracy of power to remove him from the presidential election. He risks losing his eligibility.
About 20 civilians have been killed since 2021 in unrest largely linked to his situation. The power and the camp of Ousmane Sonko reject the fault.
Ousmane Sonko called on the Senegalese to demonstrate “massively” after being arrested on Sunday in the center of the country and forcibly returned to his home in Dakar, where he was blocked by the security forces.
Macky Sall exalted the values of social cohesion. “Adhering to these values means banishing physical and verbal violence as well as hate speech and stigma,” he said. “Every physical violence, every verbal abuse, every word of hate, every private or public property ransacked and, above all, every Senegalese killed constitutes a deep wound to our country”, added the Senegalese president.
At no time did he explicitly quote Ousmane Sonko. But, he said, “no one should imagine themselves bigger or stronger than this Nation that is home to us all.”
Macky Sall appeared to respond to opposition and rights organizations that accuse the government of suppressing freedoms. “All freedom has as counterpart the responsibility which limits its abuses”, he declared.
Apart from the fate of Ousmane Sonko, a factor in the current tensions is the uncertainty maintained by Macky Sall on his candidacy or not for a third term. Such a candidacy faces strong opposition and the reproach of violating the Constitution.
Macky Sall was strongly apostrophized on this theme and on an inclusive participation in the presidential competition by the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, himself unable to present himself at present.
“There is no taboo”, said Macky Sall, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, “we can include the question of the third term in the dialogue”.
Source: France 24