DAKAR – Senegal appears to be having an identity crisis – its citizens are proud of the fact that it is considered one of West Africa’s most stable democracies and many are outraged that this reputation is now on the line.
“We feel betrayed by Macky Sall,” says a group of Imams meeting in a Mosque in the capital, Dakar, about the political crisis that hit the country a week ago when Members of Parliaments backed President Sall’s decision to delay this month’s presidential election until December.
This is according to a report by the BBC news on Monday.
“The president must review this. It’s unacceptable. It never happened before. Senegal never had a presidential election delayed. We feel betrayed. We feel misunderstood,” explained Ismael Ndiaye, the General-Secretary of Senegal’s League of Imams.
Islam is the predominant religion in Senegal – and comments such as these from influential Muslim leaders, who had in the past mediated to resolve political tension, carry huge weight.
Their blunt words reportedly reflected the wave of anger gripping the country as protesters take to the streets.
President Sall had justified his move, saying time was needed to resolve a dispute over who was eligible to stand as a presidential candidate after several opposition contenders were barred.
But those on the streets saw the postponement as a way for Sall to hold on to power beyond the end of his second term on April 2, 2024.
In his first interview since the announcement, President Sall denied this was his intention.
“I am absolutely seeking for nothing except to leave a country in peace and stability. I do not want to leave behind a country that will immediately plunge into major difficulties, ” he told the Associated Press over the weekend.
There have been violent protests across Senegal over the past week, reportedly leaving three people dead.
One of them was a geography undergraduate who died in clashes with police on a university campus in the northern city of Saint-Louis.
In Dakar, debris remained strewn across the streets after stand-offs with the security forces, who fired tear gas to disperse protesters.
Many of the four million inhabitants of the city were upset by the turn of events.
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