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Covid-19 confines elections and blurs Macky's mandate



In conversations, the coronavirus and its consequences completely overshadowed, almost erased, the stakes of the local elections scheduled for March 28, 2021 at the latest. The suspended political dialogue, at a time when the actors, after having finished reaching a consensus on the Terms of Reference, were in the process of completing the financing of the audit of the electoral register and the evaluation of the electoral process in order to then proceed with the call for tenders, risked compromising the deadline set by the Minister of the Interior. If, of course, nothing is done by the end of May. What will happen to the five-year term of President Macky Sall, who was severely heckled in his first year and put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic? The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are of course primarily human, since it is a matter of public health, but it also has consequences on our way of life. Its effects are also economic and social, as can already be seen, with part-time unemployment, jobs called into question, disruption of international trade, etc. But also, the Coronavirus has a very strong political impact in Senegal. Indeed, it has put a serious brake on the political dialogue that has been suspended since last March, thus running the risk of disrupting the electoral clock. The actors involved in these political consultations were about to complete the financing of the audit of the electoral register and the evaluation of the electoral process, after reaching a consensus on the Terms of Reference. This, in order to launch the call for tender for these two measures eagerly awaited by the political actors.

The Coronavirus has a very strong political impact in Senegal. Indeed, it has put a serious brake on the political dialogue that has been suspended since last March, thus running the risk of disrupting the electoral clock.

Alas! Covid-19 has very seriously questioned the possibility of organising these local elections within the time frame proposed by the Minister of the Interior, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, that is to say no later than 28th March 2021. For good reason, everything has been suspended even though civil society actors had deemed it necessary to obtain from the government a chronogram that would make it possible to plan all the major stages leading up to the elections. Their fear was based on the fact that by the end of May, if nothing was done, the date of the elections would be compromised. Because, according to them, there would be less than eight months to revise the voters' lists, distribute the cards, proceed with the sponsorship, not to mention the litigation phase and the consolidation of the list, and the election campaign, to finally get to the actual organisation of the election. This, although they admit that there is a possibility of reducing the legal deadlines. Consequently, if, because of Covid-19, the electoral cycle has not started by the end of May, the elections will be compromised by that date and the President would be obliged to extend once again the mandate of the mayors, communal and departmental councillors. This would deal a serious blow to democratic principles by disrupting the republican electoral calendar, violating the principle of national sovereignty and trampling on voters' right to vote, among other things.


If, because of Covid-19, the electoral cycle has not started by the end of May, the elections will be compromised by that date and the President would be obliged to extend once again the mandate of the mayors, communal and departmental councillors. This would deal a serious blow to democratic principles by disrupting the republican electoral calendar, violating the principle of national sovereignty and trampling on voters' right to vote, among other things.

What about President Macky Sall's five-year term? To say the least, the head of state's second term is going through a major ordeal. Already, the first year of his mandate has been heavily heckled by many things, such as the BBC and Aliou Sall affair on oil, the digging up of the hatchet of the teachers' unions, the crisis within his party the Alliance for the Republic (APR in French), as well as the controversy around the presidential mandate, not forgetting the manhunt started in the APR because of the said mandate. The post-covid debate will undoubtedly be relaunched. Now, there is also the invisible enemy of Covid-19, which is putting off the date of delivery of the major government reforms programs until the end of the year. The priorities being redirected towards the fight against the Coronavirus, the campaign programme that allowed the re-election of President Macky Sall risks being confined to drawers. This is likely to give the head of state some ideas, in particular to ask for an additional mandate for the completion of his major projects, as his predecessor had asked for. The urgency of the moment being the fight against Covid-19, President Macky Sall has every interest in taking appropriate initiatives, in delivering true information, in finding the necessary choices, actions and words.



The author is Jean-Michel Diatta, journalist at Sud Quotidien (Senegal).

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