Nigerian President Bola Tinubu is currently in Dakar, Senegal, to meet with President Macky Sall regarding the postponement of the country’s presidential elections originally set for February 25.
Sall’s decision to delay the elections has sparked a significant crisis in Senegal, one of the most severe since its independence from France in 1960.
As the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu’s visit follows emergency talks held by the bloc’s foreign ministers in Abuja, Nigeria.
The postponement has led to widespread protests in Senegal, with clashes between the youth and security forces escalating. This unrest is unprecedented in a country known for its stability and democratic values.
ECOWAS has called on Senegal to adhere to its electoral schedule, but questions arise about the bloc’s influence over member states amidst their growing defiance. Notably absent from the recent discussions were representatives from Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, which withdrew from the bloc in January, as well as Guinea, suspended due to a coup.
The crisis in Senegal raises doubts about ECOWAS’s effectiveness, particularly after its failed intervention in Niger last year. Sall attributes the election delay to a dispute between parliament and the Constitutional Council over disqualified candidates, emphasizing a desire for reconciliation and ruling out a third term for himself.
However, opposition leaders view the delay as a “constitutional coup” and criticize the crackdown on protesters. Senegal’s parliament has backed Sall’s decision, extending his term until his successor assumes office, likely in early 2025, as his second term was initially set to end in April 2024.