Unrest in Senegal

In the past Senegal had relatively peaceful transitions of presidents, yet this time there are great tensions. It started in the summer of 2011 with uprisings in Dakar (1, 2), which were also aimed at several churches (3). During the fall there have been many protests of the opposition. (4) In the last few weeks tensions have been rising once again.

But why these protests in an otherwise peaceful and tolerating country? At the different protest manifestations in Dakar many times the text “Y’en a marre” can be seen, meaning: “we have had it”! The population is not satisfied with Wade and thus the last local and regional elections were won by the opposition. (5)

The big question is whether the nomination of Wade is legitimate. He changed the law himself in 2001. The presidential term was brought down from seven to five years. It was also decided that a president can only have a maximum of two consecutive terms. It seems logical that Wade cannot run for a third term. Legally, however, this appears not to be an open-and-shut case, because it is not clear whether the law is retroactive. Of course Wade does not think so and, to the disapproval of the opposition, he even flew in about twenty experts from France and America. (6) Anyway, the experts decided that there are no problems for Wade to stand for re-election. (7)

Perhaps the most important fear of the Senegalese is that Wade possibly has the intention to pass the presidency on to his son. (8) However, hereditary succession of the presidency goes against the basis of democracy. And it is this battle for democracy in Senegal that makes the resistance against Wade rise so high.




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