If his coalition Benno Bokk Yaakaar obtains the majority of the 165 seats in the National Assembly, after the legislative elections of July 31, President Macky Sall elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019 could count on Parliament to modify the Constitution and legitimize his candidacy for a third term. Nowadays, “The term of office of the President of the Republic is five years. No one may serve more than two consecutive terms. affirms the Senegalese fundamental law.
But when passed by referendum in March 2016, Macky Sall was serving a seven-year term. “The 2016 Constitution reduced the presidential term from seven to five years and set the number of terms at two. The Constitution has been clear: Macky Sall can no longer rely on this to justify a candidacy in 2024 “supports Mamadou Aliou Diallo, specialist in constitutional law and teacher at the Cheikh-Anta-Diop University in Dakar.
The risk of a “constitutional coup”
Can the current head of state, if his coalition wins the legislative elections, modify the fundamental law to allow himself a new presidential candidacy? “That would be what we call“a constitutional coup”a violation of the Constitution”answers Mamadou Aliou Diallo. “No one can serve more than two terms, according to the Constitution. On the basis of this reading, which is simple, it (Macky Sall) can no longer stand for the presidential election”confirms Moussa Diaw, professor of political science at Gaston-Berger University in Saint-Louis.
During the 2016 referendum, Macky Sall and his supporters claimed to have raised ” definitively ” any ambiguity on the number of mandates. “He was saying that it was no longer possible for himself to run again, because the Constitution was locked”recalls Moussa Diaw.
Less than a year after his re-election at the end of 2019, the controversy over a possible candidacy in 2024 was triggered, when Macky Sall, questioned about this possibility by several media, replied that he would not say if he would be a candidate or nope.
“It is clear that Macky Sall is seeking a third term”
Between 2016 and now, “he seems to have changed his mind. The actions he takes go in the direction of a new candidacy. On receiving young African leaders, he said he was against term limits (…). And he did not sign the ECOWAS protocol (Economic Community of West African States, which brings together 15 countries including Senegal, editor’s note) on presidential term limits. He is against this project.explains Moussa Diaw.
The political Time.news has several times been dominated by spectacular presidential decisions, which suggest that Macky Sall aspires to represent himself. For example, he sacked two high-level officials who had publicly declared that he could no longer claim another term.
“It is clear that he is looking to go to the third term. Those close to him say there is no transitional provision in the Constitution specifying that his first term, of seven years, is taken into account. According to them, this term is not part of the count and therefore there remains a five-year term that he can legally run for”says Moussa Diaw.
A Constitutional Council “acquired in its cause”
Can the sages consider such an application admissible? “The Constitutional Council is committed to its cause. These are personalities he has named, who have never made a decision that does not suit him. There is a subordination of the Constitutional Council to the executive power. If he presents himself, they will validate his candidacy.swears Moussa Diaw.
But why would the current head of state seek to run for a new term? “Those who aspire to lead the country will not give him a gift, as he did not Karim Wade. The two camps are in a radical and frontal position”, answers the political science specialist. The former minister and son of the former President of the Republic, Abdoulaye Wade, was found guilty of illicit enrichment and sentenced to a six-year prison term in 2015. He was ordered to pay a fine of 210 million euros by the Court of Repression of Illicit Enrichment, an old court resurrected by Macky Sall in the context of proceedings against relatives of his predecessor. Pardoned in 2016 by Macky Sall after two years in prison, Karim Wade has been living in forced exile in Qatar for six years.
Opposition coalitions, notably Yewwi Askan Wi, led by the leader of the opposition, the deputy and mayor of Ziguinchor Ousmane Sonko, are convinced of this and warned during the campaign: obtaining a majority in Parliament will encourage Macky Sall to run for a new term in 2024.