Senegal’s outgoing president calls elections “a victory for democracy”

Bassirou Diomaye Faye has been elected as President of Senegal after a democratic and peaceful voting process on Sunday. The 43-year-old Faye is Africa’s youngest elected President.

By Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper

Vatican News 

On Sunday, March 24, more than seven million voters in Senegal elected a new President. The election, which had been postponed from its original date on February 25, went smoothly.

Supporters of the new President, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, began celebrating in the streets as preliminary results put him firmly ahead.

Faye’s victory was surprising as the new president was only released from prison one week before the election. He had spent 11 months behind bars, together with opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, on charges of insurrection. Sonko, however, was barred from the election, having been convicted of two offences.

Democratic election

On Monday, both Faye’s rival in the ruling coalition, Amadou Ba, and outgoing President Macky Sall congratulated Faye on winning the election.

Both men praised the way the election had been run. Outgoing President Sall, who in February tried to postpone the election by 10 months a few hours ahead of the start of campaigning, said Sunday’s vote was “a victory for Senegal’s democracy.”

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Babacar Ndiaye, an analyst and research director at West African Think Tank Wathi, said that President Sall’s attempt to postpone the vote prompted more demonstrations, rekindling fears over a democratic backslide in a region that has seen eight military coups in three years. It also risked plunging Senegal into chaos.

Archbishop hopeful that peace can be preserved

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, had told Vatican News last week of his hope that the elections would be peaceful and transparent.

After a time of intense tension due to the postponement of the vote, the archbishop expressed his desire that “the little peace regained” could be preserved and intensified during and after the vote.

“We cannot afford to make mistakes,” he warned, recalling that his country “has come a long way and has narrowly avoided the worst.”

Archbishop Ndiaye advised the voters to banish any words or actions “that would be hostile.” He encouraged them to “respect each other” in their differences, “allowing everyone to freely express their opinion, but within the framework of rights and regulations.”

The archbishop of Dakar spoke of how the Catholic Church in Senegal has always worked for peace, especially through its Justice and Peace Commission.

Referring to the Church’s contribution to easing the crisis caused by the postponement of elections, he said, “It was about inviting everyone to reason, to step back from our passions a bit, and to discern where the common interest lies, where the common good is.”

Babacar Ndiaye said he sees the report of millions showing up calmly at the polls on Sunday, and the lack of major incidents in connection with them, as a testimony to the strength of democracy in Senegal.

Related articles


Acknowledging and embracing women’s contributions

On 11th February 2024, Côte d’Ivoire emerged champions of the delayed 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The Elephants of Ivory Coast edged the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2–1 in Abidjan. This final saw Diana Chikotesha of Zambia become the first female referee to officiate as a second assistant referee in a men’s AFCON final.

Top Stories