Sall’s Defeat of Wade’s Sitting Government Presages New Democratic Era in West Africa and Sees African Democracy Strengthened by Senegal Elections Success
Senegal’s peaceful transition ‘holds hope for Africa’
Senegal’s peaceful handover of power from veteran ruler Abdoulaye Wade to his estranged protege Macky Sall is a boost for Africa where democratic transitions are rare, analysts say. “Recently we have seen a lot of dissent against autocratic and authoritarian rule in Africa,” said Malawi-based politics.
The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s, and several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until Abdoulaye WADE was elected president in 2000. He was reelected in 2007 and during his two terms amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition. His decision to run for a third presidential term sparked a large public backlash that led to his defeat in a March 2012 runoff election with Macky SALL.
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