[15 February 2024] — Civil   society organizations (CSOs) across West Africa, under the auspices of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the Civic Space Resource Hub for CSOs in West Africa (CSR-HUB), convened a virtual roundtable on the ‘state of affairs’ in Senegal following President Macky Sall’s postponement of the February 25th elections. The convening provided the opportunity for West African CSOs to discuss the current political developments, degenerating civic rights and freedoms, threatened civic space, and build consensus on the role of civil society in restoring democracy and good governance, and as well make direct recommendations and demands on the President Sall’s administration and ECOWAS to bring about a lasting solution to the murky political crisis in Senegal.   

Attracting over 90 civil society actors from across the region, the roundtable also provided a safe platform for CSOs to condemn the actions of President Macky Sall to postpone the Presidential elections to a later date a blatant disregard of the democratic values and the sanctity of the Senegalese constitution.  

The CSOs present collectively:  

Recognized that the proclamation by President Macky Sall is an outright violation of the constitution and civic rights of the Senegalese people, precipitating what many believe to be a constitutional crisis. 

Acknowledged that democratic institutions are weak and have no biting effect, with citizens increasingly expressing frustration due to unrealized democratic hopes and aspirations, and a lack of responsive governance.  

Recounted that the state of civic space in Senegal is currently under threat, with concerns of the arrest and detention of pro-democracy activists, violent dispersal of protesters, disregard for opposing views, and what is perceived by many as a constitutional coup d’état in the country, orchestrated by President Macky Sall. 

Commend the Constitutional Council of Senegal for its principled stance in rejecting President Macky Sall’s unconstitutional decision to postpone the election. Serving as an autonomous entity entrusted with the responsibility of interpreting and upholding the sanctity of Senegal’s Constitution, the Constitutional Council’s intervention carries significant weight in safeguarding the integrity of democratic processes and the rule of law within the nation. 

We, at the end of the roundtable discussion, hereby unanimously adopt the following resolutions: 

President Macky Sall and Administration should: 

  • Honour the ruling of the Constitutional Council and immediately commence processes for organizing free and fair elections on a date within the remit of the constitutional provisions. 
  • Adhere to the constitution and respect the democratic process outlined therein. Postponing elections without legal basis undermines the rule of law and democratic governance.
  • Engage in constructive dialogue with opposition parties, CSOs, and other stakeholders to address concerns about the electoral process and work towards finding mutually acceptable solutions.  
  • Refrain from arbitrary arrests and detentions of pro-democracy activists and ensure the protection of citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly and expression across both digital and traditional civic spaces.  

ECOWAS Should: 

  • Provide technical support to Senegalese authorities, electoral body, and civil society on the conduct of upcoming elections, as well as send a competent team of election observers to support the process.  
  • Advise and guide the Authority of Heads of State to enforce the full extent of the Protocol on Democracy, Elections and Governance in West Africa, including Senegal.
  • Demonstrate transparency and firmness in its engagement with the Government of Senegal and ensure that the Constitution of Senegal and the ECOWAS Protocol are fully and entirely adhered to. 

Civil Society Should: 

  • Monitor and demand for the ECOWAS Commission and Government of Senegal to uphold the Community protocols and national laws. 
  • Document human rights abuses as they happen in the context of current developments in Senegal. These would not only ensure the protection of civilians, but also serve as the basis to hold the security forces (police, gendarmerie, etc.) and others accountable for any actions considered ultra vires. 
  • Continue to show cross regional solidarity with Senegalese citizens and CSOs, and demand strongly the government of Senegal to commit to democratic principles and respect the constitution to prevent any further political and constitutional crisis. 

 On behalf of civil society organizations in Senegal and across West Africa. 

Done this day 16 February 2024 

West Africa 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *