In the 18th district of Paris, Senegalese people are closely watching the political situation in their home country. They have a feeling that he wants to go for a third term.”
A delay of a presidential election, which takes place through direct universal suffrage, would be a first since 1963. The outgoing head of state, Macky Sall, is facing criticism within the Senegalese diaspora in Paris, as he has been in power for twelve years and cannot run for a third consecutive term.
In a small traditional restaurant near the Max Dormoy district, the news is closely followed by the customers, even by those who have no direct link to Senegal. While managing a tough negotiation with a customer, Mohammed closely follows the situation in his tailor shop.
The fifty-year-old has seen his children in Senegal being called “this morning by the French embassy” to “be careful”. “It’s a complicated story,” continues the cheerful salesman.
“The president wants to stay, but legally and politically, he can’t! For me, he will last six months and then he will leave.”
In the back of a clothing workshop, Mohammed, in his thirties, has set up a live stream of the debates in the National Assembly while working. He gets updates from his family on-site, “because when we protest, we get arrested easily”.
But the latter has been declared ineligible by the Constitutional Council, since he has been imprisoned since July. “It’s not normal because he is good, and I liked his statements,” he says.
“There has been too much violence in 2021,” the fifty-year-old continues, alluding to the dozens of people killed during demonstrations following Sonko’s calls. “If he comes to power, what message will be sent for our rule of law?
He will no longer have power or legitimacy. And if we push the youth too much, the military will extend their influence.
And we don’t want to have the same fate as Mali.” Senegal has never experienced a coup d’état, a rarity on the continent that makes it a beacon of stability in West Africa.
Another heavyweight of the opposition has been excluded: Karim Wade, former minister and son of former president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012). “He wants to come back, he has made the effort to renounce his French nationality to run,” says Mohammed.
“It seems incomprehensible to me to refuse him the right to be a candidate. The situation must be clarified.”
In the streets, anonymous rumors of “bribes” between the presidency and the Constitutional Council abound. Ibrahima says, “It’s the law of the jungle!”
A few steps away, shortly after having his Sunday meal in a traditional restaurant, Ibrahima takes a seat in his grocery store. He dozes off and his gaze wanders for a few moments.
Bald head, graying beard, the merchant feels “heartbroken” by the situation and isn’t even surprised to learn about the cutoff of internet mobile data in Dakar this Monday morning. “It’s the law of the jungle.
If (the postponement) goes through, it’s going to explode! The Senegalese won’t stand for it, there will be deaths for change.
This is the case in all revolutions.” Very emotional, Ibrahima, who arrived in France in 1980, would like “change” because “it’s the same faces that have been around since 1976”.
He tries to remain optimistic: “His maneuver shows his lack of confidence in his candidate (current prime minister Amadou Bâ). In any case, the opposition will prevail.”