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)
January 23, 2022
July 2022 (due)
February 2024 (due)
February 24, 2019
July 30, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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