Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2022

Voters waiting to cast their ballots in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election. Photo credit: VOA/Seydina Aba Gueye (public domain)

Freedom House Rating

Partly Free (down from Free in 2020)
Government Type
Semi-Presidential Republic
3.1 million
Local Elections
January 23, 2022
Legislative Elections
July 2022 (due)
Presidential Election
February 2024 (due)
Presidential Election
February 24, 2019
Legislative Elections
July 30, 2017
Local Elections
June 29, 2014

Senegal has set local elections – originally due in June 2019 but delayed several times – for January 23, 2022. Meanwhile, legislative elections are due in July 2022.

Political Context

Long considered a stable democracy, backsliding has been taking place under President Macky Sall, who has been accused of prosecuting his political opponents on politically-motivated charges (Freedom House downgraded the country from Free to Partly Free in 2020). Consequently, Senegal saw violent protests in March 2021 following rape charges against former opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, and further protests in November 2021. Some are concerned that Sall could attempt to seek an unconstitutional third term, especially if his allies win another majority in the 2022 legislative elections.

In that vein, Freedom House downgraded Senegal’s rating from Free to Partly Free in its 2020 Freedom in the World report. 

Geopolitical Context

A series of oil and gas discoveries starting in 2014 have set Senegal up to become a player in energy production. Sall is a former oil executive and thus has focused on beginning production. 

Curated News and Analysis

Babacar Dione, AP (January 6, 2022): Senegal rejects bill to double jail time for homosexuality

Mawunyo Hermann Boko, The Africa Report (December 29, 2021): Senegal: Why the opposition wants to toughen the law against homosexuality

AP (December 16, 2021): Hundreds protest treatment of Senegal’s opposition

Marc Perelman, France 24 (December 9, 2021 – in French, with video): Khalifa Sall, Senegalese opposition and former mayor of Dakar: “I will be a presidential candidate in 2024”

Africanews (September 3, 2021): Senegal: Opposition coalition led by Ousmane Sonko launched ahead of local polls

Mehdi Ba, Jeune Afrique (July 20, 2021 – in French): Senegal: The mayoralty of Dakar at the heart of a crucial political battle

Behdi Ba, Jeune Afrique (June 14, 2021 – in French): Local elections in Dakar: what does Macky Sall’s regime fear?

AFP (March 26, 2021): Senegal again postpones local elections

Africanews (March 24, 2021): Senegalese journalists allege increasing intimidation over Ousmane Sonko

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (March 12, 2021): Senegal’s Democracy Faces a Crisis of Public Trust

Krista Larson, AP (March 9, 2021): EXPLAINER: Why Senegal protesters are clashing with police

RFI (March 5, 2021): Violent protests in Senegal as opposition leader summoned over rape charges

AFP (March 5, 2021): Ousmane Sonko, sharp-tongued figure at heart of Senegal crisis

Medi1News (February 15, 2021 – in French): Senegal: towards a further postponement of local elections

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Updated January 17, 2022

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