Senegalese presidential election, 2012
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A presidential election took place in Senegal on 26 February 2012, amidst controversy over the constitutional validity of a third term for incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade. In the runoff on 25 March, Macky Sall defeated the incumbent.
The 26 February 2012 date for the election was decreed by President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade on 23 November 2010. President Wade indicated that he would stand for his third term, set at seven years by the constitution. While the 2001 constitution limits a President to two terms, Wade argued that his 2000 election to his first seven-year term falls under the previous constitution, which did not provide for term limits.
2010–2011 protests and violence
In April 2010, Wade came under fire for unveiling a monument that was deemed too expensive. It was also criticised by religious leaders for the immodest attire of the women in the monument. While there was domestic criticism, the United States' Jesse Jackson and Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika praised Wade's representation of Africa. Similarly, North Korea, who contributed to the construction of the monument in exchange for a tract of land, congratulated Wade.
In December 2010, Senegalese troops engaged and repulsed 100 MFDC rebels after they attacked Bignona, Casamance. In February 2011, the Senegalese government cut ties with Iran, later alleging that forensic analysis of bullets obtained from rebels revealed that the Iranian government had supplied them.
In June, after violent protests, Wade dropped plans for two constitutional changes: lowering the percentage of votes required for a first-round victory from 50% to 25% and creating the position of vice-president, also to be elected. Critics feared that Wade would use this to ensure his re-election against a split opposition, and to make his son vice-president. In response to a protest planned for 23 July, a ban on protesting in Dakar was laid down on 21 July 2011; the protesters in response moved the planned protest outside the city.
Constitutional Court term limit ruling
Term limit protests
|This article is outdated. (February 2012)|
Protests erupted the following day. Buildings burned across the capital Dakar. Police fired tear gas at youth protesters who questioned the ruling. Wade made a television appearance in which he called the protests "displays of petulance" and promised an "open" electoral campaign with "no restrictions on freedom." Protesters said that they would turn the Place de l'Obelisque in central Dakar into the country's version of Tahrir Square, the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian revolution which led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Head of the Party of Independence and Labour and member of the M23 opposition activist group Amath Dansokho told reporters, "Abdoulaye Wade has declared war on the people". Truckloads of police in full riot gear and armed with tear gas grenade launchers and truncheons surrounded the presidential palace used by Wade. Leading human rights activist Alioune Tine was detained.
The protests continued into February. Riot police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets in Dakar on 19 February 2012, one week before the election.
In addition to the fourteen eventual candidates, Bruno d'Erneville, President of Programme Action Citoyenne Totale, musician Youssou N'Dour, Abdourahmane Sarr and Kéba Keinde intended to run in the election as independents. In January 2012, Bruno d'Erneville formed an alliance with Ibrahima Fall and withdrew. The other three intended candidates were barred from running in the election over insufficiency of legitimate signatures to endorse their campaigns.
|Ousmane Tanor Dieng||Socialist Party of Senegal||Ousmane Tanor Dieng (PS)
|Moustapha Niasse||United to Boost Senegal
Alliance of the Forces of Progress
|Moustapha Niasse (AFP)
|Macky Sall||Alliance for the Republic – Yakaar||supported Abdoulaye Wade|
|Idrissa Seck||Rewmi||Idrissa Seck (Rewmi)
|Abdoulaye Wade||Senegalese Democratic Party||Abdoulaye Wade (PDS)
|Mor Dieng||fr:YAAKAAR, le Parti de l’Espoir|
|Cheikh Tidiane Gadio||Citizen Political Movement||supported Abdoulaye Wade|
|Cheikh Bamba Dièye||Front for Socialism and Democracy/Benno Jubël||fr:Cheikh Bamba Dièye (FSD/BJ)
|Doudou Ndoye||Union for the Republic||Doudou Ndoye (UPR)
|Diouma Dieng Diakhaté||fr:Parti Initiative démocratique jogal|
|Oumar Khassimou Dia||fr:Parti humaniste Naxx Jarinu|
|Amsatou Sow Sidibé||fr:CAR Lennen|
For the second round Sall called on all other losing candidates and N'Dour to support him on the promise of returning to five-year terms from the previous seven-year term that Wade controversially restored; he also said he would ensure that no leader could hold more than two terms.
- First round
Following a review of the Constitutional Council's official result for the first round, Wade had 34.8% of the votes with Sall forcing a runoff after getting 26.5% of the votes; Moustapha Niasse was in third place with 13.2%, Ousmane Tanor Dieng was in fourth place with 11.3%, and Idrissa Seck followed with 7.86%.
- Second round
The election commission had warned both candidates not to prematurely declare victory. Voting occurred without undue incidents.
After the second round, Wade announced the preliminary result and congratulated Sall. "My dear compatriots, at the end of the second round of the vote...the current results indicate that Macky Sall has won." His spokesman Amadou Sall said: "It is the whole country that has just won ... This is a big moment for democracy and President Abdoulaye Wade has respected the voice of the people." Thousands of Sall's supporters then celebrated on the streets of Dakar and outside the winning party's headquarters. The Senegalese Press Agency said that Wade called Sall at 21:30 to congratulate him. Sall said he would be a president for all the Senegalese people and the election marked a "new era." Wade's presidential spokesman Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye issued a statement that read: "On this day...at 9:27 p.m., President Abdoulaye Wade...wish[ed Sall] good luck in his mission at the head of Senegal in the hopes that he will render the Senegalese happy. In this way, Senegal, through a transparent election, has once again proven that she remains a great democracy — a great country."
International reactions included:
- The African Union said Wade's concession was a show of "maturity." The Commission's chairman Jean Ping said the peaceful conduct of the election "proved that Africa, despite its challenges, continues to register significant progress towards democracy and transparent elections."
- European Union – A spokesman for Catherine Ashton said the election was "a great victory for democracy in Senegal and in Africa. Senegal is a great example for Africa."
- United Nations – The UN praised and welcomed Wade's concession speech.
- France – President Nicolas Sarkozy said the election was "good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular. Senegal is a major African country and a model of democracy."
- United States – The White House also praised and welcomed Wade's concession speech.
After being sworn in on 2 April, Sall appointed Abdoul Mbaye as prime minister. Sall said that as "we aren't able to do everything. I haven't promised to do everything," his focus would be on poverty alleviation and development. This was boosted by the union of university professors suspending a strike to allow the new government to review its demands.
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