Senegal Stepping Backwards

Senegal was once hailed as a shining example of democracy in post-colonial Africa, but recently things have not been good. It is vital that Senegal’s government seeks to heal divisions within society. The presidential elections in 2019 will offer an opportunity for Senegal to resume its position as a champion of acceptance and inclusivity.

With a large Sufi majority and widespread rejection of extremism, Senegal is one of the most tolerant countries in Africa. There is a real chance for Senegal to now adopt a form government based upon the Sufi principles of compassion, freedom and hope.

Senegal’s recent elections were at odds with such principles. The elections were marred by fraud. Many voters were turned away for not having identity cards and many had been left off of polling lists altogether.

The governing coalition won 125 of 165 seats in the National Assembly, increasing the likelihood of President Mackay Sall being elected for a second term in the 2019 Presidential elections. But the lasting memory of this election will be of protestors being met with riot police and tear gas, in a country traditionally associated with peaceful demonstration.