efforts at the parliamentary election on 31 July

Last day of the campaign, Friday 29 July in Senegal, before the general election on Sunday 31 July. One hundred and sixty-five seats of deputies are up for grabs. Eight lists are in competition. The majority hopes to maintain a comfortable majority in the assembly, while the main opposition forces aim to impose cohabitation on President Macky Sall.

From our correspondent in Dakar,

A live televised face-to-face between two candidates: this took place on Tuesday 26 July in Ziguinchor, Casamance, between Victorine Ndeye, leader of the majority list Benno Bokk Yaakaar, and Guy Marius Sagna, of the inter-opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi / Wallu Senegal.

The event was described as “historic” by human rights campaigner Alioune Tine, while the campaign was mainly characterized by caravans criss-crossing the country, maximum sound system.

A “boring” campaign, “without real substantive debate about the programs”, laments Mamadou Lamine Sarr, professor of political science at the Virtual University of Senegal. It took place without major incident, after a chaotic start to the electoral process and the Constitutional Council’s rejection of the national list of incumbent Yewwi Askan Wi, the main opposition coalition led by Ousmane Sonko.

Read also Legislative in Senegal: The Constitutional Council decides after the appeals filed by the opposition

Ousmane Sonko, non-candidate but ubiquitous The mayor of Ziguinchor and outgoing deputy is therefore not a candidate: it is the alternates, often unknown to the general public, who will represent Yewwi Askan Wi in the proportional vote. People with often atypical backgrounds, such as Oumar Sy, civil aviation chief, head of the national list of temporary workers.

However, Ousmane Sonko will have been omnipresent during the campaign, chain meetings and local visits. “Whether we like him or not, we cannot deny his ability to mobilize crowds that is a Sonko phenomenon,” said an observer of political life.

After its third place in the presidential election of 2019, “he has become a locomotive with young people”. His arrest in an alleged rape case caused violent riots in March 2021, which left at least thirteen dead. A trial date has not been set in this case.

Objective of the opponent during these legislative elections: to impose cohabitation on President Macky Sall. For this, Yewwi Askan Wi has teamed up with the Wallu Senegal coalition, formed approx. former president Abdoulaye Wade. The principle is simple: one coalition undertakes to support the other in the department where it is in a position of strength.

This alliance “could harm the majority,” says Ababacar Fall, secretary general of Gradec, the participatory democracy and good governance research and advocacy group. “The strategy can pay off if it is well understood by voters,” he adds.

The majority put Macky Sall on the balance sheet On the majority side, the former prime minister, Aminata Touré, leader of the national listand the candidates for Benno Bokk Yaakaa have during the campaign praised the results and achievements of President Macky Sall since he came to power in 2012: TER -Train Express Régional-, the new Senegal stadium or the Diamniadio Sports Palace are shown on campaign posters.

As households worry about inflation and the high cost of living, former minister Amadou Ba at a press conference hailed the benefits of the new Senegal Plan, the development program launched by President Macky Sall. has been acquired”, the coalition’s leaders assure.

In the absence of opinion polls, the barometer remains the last municipal election on 23 January. The opposition of Yewwi Askan Wi had registered successes in the big cities, especially Dakar, Ziguinchor or even Thiès. But the presidential coalition had claimed a “hegemony at the national level”, with a majority of votes throughout the territory and solid entrenchments, especially in Fouta (north), or in the region of Fatick (west).

A “referendum on the third term” Six months after the local elections, these legislative elections will be the last before the next presidential election. “It’s a warm-up,” says researcher Mamadou Lamine Sarr, “All political debate is monopolized before the 2024 deadline.” Ousmane Sonko has already made his ambitions clear.

As for Macky Sall, he maintains the mystery of a possible third candidacy. “It’s a non-issue, the president decides when the time comes,” laments one member of the majority. But the opposition has made it one of its main campaign themes. “It’s the red line” warns a manager of Yewwi Askan Wi.

The legislative election will be a “referendum for or against a third term”, believes Ababacar Fall of GRADEC, for whom “this issue has polluted the political debate since 2019 and must be decided”.

A Renewed Cohabitation Cohabitation or not, the 14th legislature has some surprises in store. “Even if the opposition does not win a majority, there will be a rebalancing of the balance of power in the assembly”, continues Ababacar Fall.

And new profiles could enter the half-cycle. “The assembly must reflect the true face of Senegal with more young people, more women”, hopes Mamadou Lamine Sarr, citing in particularthe new “Servants / MPR” coalition created by the young journalist and columnist Pape Djibril Fall.

Faced with the “mastodons”, the recent coalition AAR Senegal (Alternative for a Rupture Assembly), which describes itself as a “moderate” opposition, is also trying to make itself heard around its leaders Thierno Alassane Sall and Abdourahmane Diouf.

A departure and an arrival Regardless of the results, these legislative elections will mark the departure of the President of the National Assembly since 2012: Moustapha Niasse, pillar of political life since Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first President of the Republic of Senegal.

And the vote will, in principle, be followed by the arrival of a new prime minister. The post, removed by Macky Sall in 2019 and then reinstated in November 2021, remains unfilled. The choice of the personality to take over as head of government could be a first indication of the head of state’s intentions for 2024.

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