Senegal President Macky Sall pledges not to seek third term

President Macky Sall has officially declared that he will not seek a third term in office. His decision, which was made public during a televised address, puts an end to widespread speculation about his political ambitions and is expected to assuage fears of democratic backslide in the West African nation.

President Sall, in his address, made it clear that the 2019 term was his second and final one. Despite having the constitutional right to run again, he firmly stated his intention not to participate as a candidate in the upcoming elections scheduled for February 25, 2024. The announcement comes after persistent rumors suggesting his desire to extend his rule, which had sparked a series of protests since 2021, resulting in unfortunate loss of lives.

“There has been much speculation and commentary on my eventual candidature on this election,” President Sall acknowledged in his televised speech. “My decision, carefully considered… is not to run as a candidate in the upcoming election on Feb. 25, 2024. And this, even though the constitution grants me the right.”

The opposition, which had vehemently opposed the prospect of President Sall seeking re-election, had vowed to continue protests if he pursued another term, citing constitutional violations. The situation further intensified following the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison on charges of “corrupting youth.” It was reported that Sonko, aged 48, was found guilty of immoral behavior towards a salon employee below the age of 21 but was cleared of the rape allegation.

This verdict triggered outrage among Sonko’s supporters, who deemed the prosecution as politically motivated, intended to thwart his chances of running for president. In the aftermath of the court ruling, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in various cities, leading to unfortunate clashes that claimed at least 16 lives.

President Sall’s announcement of not seeking a third term offers a ray of hope for stability and political dialogue in Senegal, as the nation navigates through a challenging period of unrest. It remains to be seen how the situation will unfold in the coming months in the lead-up to the crucial elections, with the opposition closely observing developments in the political landscape.

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