The Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) for Civil Society in West Africa expresses deep concern about the unexpected and unjustified postponement of Senegal’s presidential elections, which were initially scheduled for February 25, 2024. This disruption has led to very disturbing developments including pockets of human rights violations, violent dispersal of protests, and unlawful internet shutdown.
Equally disturbing and repugnant is the use of security forces to expel members of parliament who opposed the adoption of a new law postponing the election date to December 2024. The National Assembly’s decision to pass a law postponing the presidential elections violates Article 92 of the Constitution, which specifically grants this authority to the Constitutional Council.
We vehemently condemn the adoption of this election postponement law, alongside the violent repression of peaceful protests and the imposition of internet restrictions. These actions not only infringe upon the fundamental rights of Senegalese citizens, but also violate the Constitution; the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance, which stipulates in its section 2, article 2 that no substantial electoral law reform should occur within six (6) months prior to the elections without the consent of a broad majority of political actors; and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
We urgently call on President Macky Sall and the Senegalese authorities to establish a fair process to restore constitutional order and reschedule the elections in collaboration with the opposition. Additionally, we demand the immediate lifting of internet restrictions, in line with the Constitution’s recognition of citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and speech.
We further implore the international community, particularly the United Nations, African Union, and ECOWAS, to closely monitor the situation in Senegal and take decisive actions to hold President Macky Sall’s leadership accountable for safeguarding the rights of Senegalese citizens.
We commend the Senegalese people for their unwavering dedication to defending democracy and preserving the civic space. We urge the security forces to fulfill their duties with professionalism, refraining from infringing upon the rights of citizens, particularly peaceful protesters.
The CSR-Hub stands in solidarity with the people of Senegal during this challenging period, and pledge our support towards protecting citizens’ rights, promoting sustainable development, and upholding the vaunted democracy of the nation.
CSR-Hub is a capacity building platform for civil society organisations (CSOs) pushing back restrictions to open civic space, enabling environment, civil liberties, and open society in West Africa. It is designed to reinforce the institutional, financial, and digital resilience of the civil society in a bid to respond effectively to emerging and longstanding challenges to civic space, human rights and freedoms in West Africa.