The race against time is on in Senegal. The local elections, after many postponements, are scheduled for January 2022. The process of adopting the new Electoral Code must therefore take into account the Additional Protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on democracy and good governance. This protocol prohibits, in the absence of consensus, the rewriting of the basic text of the elections “less than six months before a major election.”
The amendment of the Electoral Code was one of the main recommendations of the two-year National Dialogue, which brought together civil society, the non-aligned, the opposition and the government. Thus, the National Assembly will have to meet, by 23 July, in an extraordinary session or in emergency procedure to vote on this bill.
In the new electoral law, the various stakeholders in the political field have agreed on the choice of direct universal suffrage for the election of mayors, the abolition of sponsorship in local elections and the restoration of the old system for independent candidates.
Indeed, in order to run for the vote of the inhabitants of a commune, an independent candidate must at least collect sponsorships corresponding to 2 percent of the voters of the said locality. The ECOWAS Court of Justice, in a ruling issued on 28 April, concluded that the sponsorship system “violates the right to free participation in elections.” This is why the regional court had asked for its abolition within six months.
For his part, President Macky Sall appointed the Minister of Interior, a post currently occupied by Antoine Félix Diome, to engage in consultations with all stakeholders to set the amount of the deposit for local elections. According to several sources, the majority is proposing 20 million CFA francs while the opposition is counting on 10 million CFA francs. To ensure that no one is unaware of this, a decree will be published 150 days before the elections are held.
Disagreements also remain on the establishment of an independent body in charge of organising the elections, the single ballot or the loss of civil and political rights for a citizen following a conviction.
The cases of Karim, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012) and Khalifa Ababacar Sall, former mayor of Dakar, are mobilising the opposition. The former was imprisoned as part of the hunt for ill-gotten gains and the latter paid for the advance fund of the municipality he headed.