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Senegal's President Macky Sall Announces He Will Not Seek Third Term, Easing Tensions
President Macky Sall of Senegal announced that he would not be seeking a third term in office, honoring the country's pride in its historic record as a democratic role model in Africa.
President Macky Sall of Senegal declared on Monday that he would not pursue a third term in office, thereby ending months of uncertainty and tension surrounding the possibility of his candidacy, which many argued would have violated the country's constitution.
In a televised address, Sall revealed his decision, stating, "My dear fellow citizens, after careful consideration, I have decided not to be a candidate in the election on Feb. 25, 2024. My second term in 2019 was my final term. Senegal is bigger than me and it is full of leaders who are also capable of pushing the country towards development. I have a code of honour and a sense of historical responsibility that commands me to preserve my dignity and my word."
Sall's announcement comes a month after government protests resulted in the deaths of at least 16 people. These demonstrations were fueled, in part, by the president's refusal to clarify whether he intended to run for a third term. Thousands of predominantly young protesters took to the streets, expressing concerns over what they perceived as an authoritarian shift in Sall's government and the conviction of his main political opponent, Ousmane Sonko, on charges that his supporters believed were aimed at sidelining him.
The news of Sall's decision was met with great relief among many residents of Dakar, where tensions had been running high leading up to the president's address.
Senegal, which has never experienced a coup since gaining independence from France in 1960, considers itself a democratic role model in Africa. Concerns were raised that Sall's potential pursuit of a third term might compromise that reputation.
Sall, 61, was first elected in 2012 for a seven-year term and secured re-election in 2019 for an additional five years after amending the constitution, which imposes a two-term limit on presidents. Sall argued that the constitutional change reset the term limit, but legal experts within Senegal and abroad dismissed this assertion as fallacious.
Since assuming office in 2012, Sall has overseen the growth of one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, focusing on significant infrastructure projects such as a new international airport, a train connecting the capital city of Dakar to its suburbs, and a new metropolis aimed at alleviating congestion in Dakar.
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