West Africa: Ecowas Reacts to Postponement of Senegal’s Presidential Election

Critics have, however, raised concerns about the decision considering President Sall’s recent history where he sought to amend the Senegalese constitution so he could extend his stay in office.

The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, in its first reaction, did not condemn the unilateral postponement of Senegal’s presidential election by President Macky Sall but expressed “concern over the circumstances that have led to the postponement of the elections.” The bloc also urged the president to ensure a new date is promptly announced.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Sall on Saturday announced the postponement of the election which was scheduled to hold on 25 February. The outgoing president said holding the election as scheduled “could gravely hurt”the country after some candidates were disqualified by the courts.

Mr Sall, who did not announce a new date for the election, said he would start “an open national dialogue… to create the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election in a peaceful and reconciled Senegal.”

Critics have, however, raised concerns about the decision considering Mr Sall’s recent history where he sought to amend the Senegalese constitution so he could extend his stay in office beyond the constitutionally allowed term limit. The Senegalese leader dropped the idea following intense local and international pressure.

In its reaction, ECOWAS urged the relevant authorities in Senegal to urgently choose a new date for the country’s presidential elections that was postponed.

The position of the regional bloc was contained in a statement signed and issued by the ECOWAS Commission and sent to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

According to the statement, the ECOWAS Commission said it has taken note of the decision of the Senegalese authorities to postpone the presidential elections, originally scheduled to take place on 25 February.

“The ECOWAS Commission expresses concern over the circumstances that have led to the postponement of the elections.

“Also, the bloc appeals to the competent authorities to expedite the various processes in order to set a new date for the elections.

“The Commission further urges the entire political class to prioritise dialogue and collaboration for a transparent, inclusive and credible election.”

Many international commentators had criticised Mr Sall for trying to extend his stay in office but he was later commended for dropping the ambition. ECOWAS toed the latter line in its statement on Sunday.

“The ECOWAS Commission salutes President Macky Sall for upholding his earlier decision not to run for another term.

“It encourages him to continue to defend and protect Senegal’s long-standing democratic tradition.”

The statement added that the Commission would continue to monitor the situation in the West African nation.

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