In The Fog Of Uncertainty, Senegal Lights A Fire


“In the past two decades, West Africans have clamoured for change from the rotten past. In some cases, the change was stalled, in some, it was delivered through the barrel of the gun. However, what Senegal has shown us is that, despite the odds, true change can be delivered through the ballot box”.


IT is in the genre of fairy tales. A virtually unknown 43-year-old in 2023, makes a Facebook post alleging that Macky Sall, the ubiquitous President of his country, Senegal, was trampling on the fundamental rights of citizens.

His post was in support of jailed opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko and the manipulation of the judiciary to send him to prison for allegedly colluding with terrorist groups, instigating insurrection and endangering state security.

Now, Sall, backed by the power and might of super power, France, was not a man to annoy. For his insolence, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, was seized and thrown into jail like Sonko. It was to intimidate those who opposed the autocrat.

Then, events began to move at a dizzying pace independent of those who sat in prison or the Presidential Palace. Sall was following in the footsteps of fellow French stooge in Africa, Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire. The latter is on an unconstitutional and illegal third term in office. However, Sall failed in his bid to run for an unconstitutional third term. He then devised an insidious way to remain in power; simply postpone the presidential election indefinitely. That was his greatest undoing.

Although backed by the Senegalese parliament, state power, external forces and the quiet acquiesce of many West African Presidents, he could not impose his will as power had left the Presidential Palace for the streets. The dictates of the streets as expressed by popular mass protests was that the election must hold and, Sall must leave at the expiration of his tenure on April 2, 2024.

The parliament, bowing to the pressures of the mass, on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, granted amnesty to political detainees. Clearly in order to reduce the electoral chances of Diomaye and give the ruling party candidate and former Prime Minister, Amadou Ba, better chances, Sall did not release the opposition leaders from prison until Thursday, March 14, that is ten days before the Sunday, March 24, 2024 presidential election. Diomaye was on the ballot as Sonko had been barred. His message to the people was simple: “Diomaye is Sonko”.

The campaign against him that he never held any high office, was never a parliamentarian, minister and as such, has zero leadership experience, counted in his favour. He has never been part of the rot that saw Senegal to its underdeveloped and malnourished state. He emerge as a ‘Mister Clean’. Who better to midwife change than a person who has not been part of the rotten past?

The man who was sitting in prison while other candidates were campaigning, and whose face was virtually unrecognisable, emerged from the shadows and was given a one-way ticket to the Presidential Palace by the electorate. He received more than 54 per cent of the vote, while Amadou Ba came a distant second with over 35 per cent and, third placed candidate, Aliou Mamadou Dia, won 2.8 per cent. Diomaye said: “By electing me, the Senegalese people have chosen to break with the past. I promise to govern with humility and transparency.”

Diomaye is now set to send President Sall packing for the good of the Senegalese and African people and to the glory of humanity.

For me, in order to strengthen democratic principles and make dictatorship unattractive, Sall should be tried for his manifest crimes. First, he endangered Senegal by subverting democracy, including the fundamental rights of the people to freedom of movement and fair hearing. Secondly, he illegally detained people without a right to have their day in court. Thirdly, his government reportedly murdered at least 20 Senegalese for daring to protest against growing dictatorship. Fourthly, he illegally dissolved the opposition, Patriots of Senegal, PASTEF, party. Fifth, for unilaterally, unconstitutionally and illegally postponing the February 25 presidential election. Sixth, for illegally attempting to extend his presidential tenure by postponing the presidential election and handover date indefinitely.

The Senegalese did not vote for Diomaye, a man they hardly knew or could recognise. Rather, they voted for an idea, for hope and for a desired future. The pathway to that future, according to the Pan Africanist President-elect, include constitutional changes which will separate the judiciary from the executive, drastically reducing the powers of the President, including creating the office of the Vice President. It includes an uncompromising war against corruption and drastic reduction of the 20 per cent unemployment in a population of 17 million.

But the ultimate goal, is to snatch the sovereignty of the country from France; a sort of second independence that would transform the flag independence Senegal was given on August 2, 1960, to a real independence that would include economic, financial and social independence from France.

The plan of the emergent powers in Senegal include a currency change from the French-controlled CFA Franc because, as Diomaye argues: “There’s no sovereignty if there’s no monetary sovereignty.” Although the proposed currency transition might have been made easier by the September 16, 2023 decision of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to exit the Franc and establish a new common currency, the Eco, Senegal would need to be tactical as its funds are in the bowels of the French Central Bank.

Other plans include renegotiating mining rights as Niger recently did with spectacular economic gains and, revisiting energy contracts as Senegal is set to become an oil producing country this year.

These are the real issues that would define the Diomaye Presidency; whether it will be a success or a failure like that of Sall. The steps will also determine whether France and its Western allies would allow Senegal develop or try to strangulate it by little veiled sanctions, vile propaganda, falsehood, instigation or even coup.

Interestingly, Senegal is the only country in the 16 West African countries that has never witnessed a coup. But faced with real change and a shrinking neo-colony made smaller by the military revolts in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic, France would do anything to keep Senegal, a subservient neo-colony like Cote d’Ivoire.

Whatever it is, in the fog of uncertainty across Africa, including wars and dictatorship, Senegal has lit a fire to give us some illumination. As it is, Senegal itself has little time as Diomaye’s presidency begins on April 2, 2024 heralding a possible new age for Africa.

In the past two decades, West Africans have clamoured for change from the rotten past. In some cases, the change was stalled, in some, it was delivered through the barrel of the gun. However, what Senegal has shown us is that, despite the odds, true change can be delivered through the ballot box. But there is a caveat: as United States President John Kennedy said on March 13, 1962: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent change inevitable.”

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