‘Many crises in Africa caused by desire to stay long in power’ – warns Senegalese president as country poises for historic referendum

By Sanna Camara
The Senegalese president Macky Sall has said that he has “especially proposed mechanisms for the stability” of Senegal’s national institutions. Mr. Sall also argued that many crises in Africa are caused by the desire [of leaders] to stay longer in power, which is usually concentrated in the hands of a president of the Republic.

Macky 2016

In a social media message posted this afternoon from Dakar, President Sall said such power concentrations are typical of “true monarchs”, and that the forthcoming referendum in Senegal entails making “a decisive choice for our dear country.”

“I have proposed a constitutional review which strengthens democracy and the rule of law” the Senegalese leader said, describing the referendum of 20th March as historic.

Limiting presidential term from 7 to 5 years

The term reduction referendum from seven to five years is tearing apart Senegal’s political and civil society groups, even though it was a promise president Sall made to the population in his 2012 presidential bid.

In his message to the country this afternoon, President Sall argues that by reducing the powers of the president, reducing the duration of a term and the number of mandates of the president, the draft revision of the constitution is aimed at neutralising sources of conflict and bringing new life to the Senegalese democracy.

It is with this same concern to avoid the humanely and economically costly crises for our country that I also proposed the constitutionalisation of the inalienable right of the people on the land and natural resources, as well as their right to a healthy environment, Sall argued.

Addressing national inadequacies in Senegal

In February, Mr. Sall argued that a decision by the Constitutional Court forced him to renege on his unilateral decision to reduce the term and subject it to a referendum.

Special focus of the constitutional review will address “equity between Senegalese citizens and the requirement of an inclusive democracy justified [by] the possibility of independent candidates to all types of election, the election of members of the diaspora in Senegal and the status of the opposition and its leader.”

Alliance

Pro-government Le Soleil newspaper over the weekend reported that President Sall has succeeded in convincing country’s influential religious leaders to persuade millions of their followers to vote for a ‘Yes’.

He met with leaders from Touba, Tivaouane, Ndiassane, Médina Baye,Yoff Layenne, Digane, Thiénéba among others at the presidential palace last week to persuade them to back the presidential term reduction referendum set for March 20, 2016.

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