Senegal. In early January, the world-famous Senegalese
singer and regime critic Youssou N'Dour announced his
intention to run in the February presidential election.
However, his candidacy was halted by the Constitutional
Court at the end of the month when he failed to collect the
number of valid signatures required to become presidential
candidate. According to
countryaah, the candidacies of two other opposition
politicians were also stopped. The court approved 14
candidates, including incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade,
85, who was severely criticized for running for a second
re-election despite the fact that a president may only sit
for two terms, which Wade had already done. The fact that
the Constitutional Court still approved President Wade's
candidacy was not unexpected, since he had appointed the
court's members himself.
The election went quietly. The turnout was just over 51%
when the first round of the presidential election was held
on February 26. Wade received the most votes, 35%. In second
place was Macky Sall with 27%. The 50-year-old Sall had held
several ministerial posts in Wade's governments, including
the prime minister in 2004-07. Other candidates received
less than 15% each. Since no one reached up to 50% of the
vote, there was a second round of elections on March 25.
Then stood the election between Wade, who represented the
Senegal Democratic Party (PDS) and Sall, who was running for
Alliance for the Republic (APR).
Sall won the second round with 66% of the vote against
Wade, who got 34%. The result was reported shortly after the
polling stations were closed. Wade acknowledged being
defeated directly and his spokesmen said the election "once
again proved that Senegal is a great democracy". The African
Union, which had observers in place, believed that the
peaceful elections were a sign that Africa was moving
towards democracy and transparent elections. According to EU
observers, the choice was correct. The turnout was 55%.
On April 2, Macky Sall took office as new president. He
was sworn in for a seven-year term, but had during his
election campaign promised to reduce the president's term to
five years and to keep the restriction for two terms. Sall
had also promised to fight poverty, and a concrete measure
was to reduce the government's labor costs in order to lower
basic commodity prices. As prime minister, Sall appointed
the former banker Abdoul Mbaye who did not belong to any
party. Singer N'Dour became Minister of Culture and Tourism.
N'Dour stood behind Sall in the election since his own
candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Court. Four of
the 23 ministers in the new government were women.
The July 1 parliamentary election meant a landslide
victory for President Sall's government coalition Benno Bokk
Yakaar (United in Hope), which included the APR. The
coalition took home 119 of the 150 seats in the National
Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. Former President
Wade's party PDS received only 12 seats. Only 37% of voters
participated in the election. The proportion of women in
Parliament was higher than before, 64 out of 150. This was
the result of a new law that had been approved in 2010 and
which says that at least half of all candidates on the
various party lists should be women.
At least 13 people were killed in August in floods caused
by unusually heavy rain. Thousands of people became
homeless. The disaster caused President Sall to cancel a
South Africa visit and travel home. He then said he wanted
to close the Senate to use the money that would be saved to
prevent new floods. In September, both chambers of
Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the Senate. Critics
said this was just a way for Sall to weaken the opposition,
as most senators supported Wade.
In August, the Senegalese government signed an agreement
with the African Union to set up a special court to bring
Chad's former president Hissène Habré to trial. Habré was
accused of killing and torturing thousands of oppositionists
in his home country during the 1980s when he reigned after
taking power in a coup in 1982. He was driven out of Chad in
1990 and lived in Senegal since 2005. The International
Court of Justice in The Hague had previously ordered Senegal
to bring Habré to trial or extradite him to Belgium, but
this had not happened due to uncertainty surrounding the
financing of the Special Court.
In December, Senegal's parliament formally approved the
establishment of the court. In early December, the
separatist Movement for Casamance's Democratic Forces (MFDC)
released eight Senegalese held hostage. Some of them had
been captured for over a year. This was the first concrete
result of the new peace talks in which the Catholic Church
mediates. The resumed talks aim to end the low-intensity
30-year conflict in Casamance in the south, where the
fragmented separatist movement demands independence or
increased autonomy for the region.