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Senegal: Thousands mark ten year anniversary of protest that stopped ex-president from 3rd term

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JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors

Ousmane Sonko

Thousands in Dakar, Senegal's capital on Wednesday commemorated the ten year anniversary of the June 23, 2011 protest that stopped former President Abdoulaye Wade from a third term, and called for a 'No-third term' for current President Macky Sall.

But this is almost like some deja vu. The anniversary on wednesday turned a protest that called for a ban on a possible third term for current President Macky Sall.

Mr. Sall, elected in the second round in 2012 against Abdoulaye Wade and re-elected in 2019, has remained silent on his intentions in 2024.

A few thousand people gathered in the Grand Yoff district, at the call of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (M2D), a militant group supporting Ousmane Sonko, who is expected to be Mr. Sall's main opponent in the event of his candidacy.

"Ten years later, we are still firmly opposed to the violation of the Constitution. Macky Sall is not entitled to a third term. He must leave," said education trade unionist Dame Mbodj.

"Senegal tampi", "the Senegalese are tired", chanted the demonstrators, a slogan that has been in vogue for several weeks.

At the same time, several thousand people converged on the Place de la Nation at the call of the 23 June Movement (M23) which emerged ten years ago from the protest against Abdoulaye Wade. Organisations supporting the president joined the call, arguing that their members and Macky Sall himself had also participated in the 2011 protests.

The signs of support for Macky Sall, such as T-shirts with his name on them, were omnipresent. The Minister of Social Economy Zahra Iyane Thiam denied that it was a pro-Macky Sall demonstration.

"All the actors of 2011 are there, with a few exceptions," and the people came "to plebiscite the achievements of the president," she told AFP. The participants in the competing demonstration "are opponents who were not in the fight in 2011," she said.

A number of initiators and participants in the 2011 mobilisation are now in the presidential majority, others in the opposition, and others have stepped back.

23 June 2011 has been remembered as a day of demonstrations and violence against Abdoulaye Wade's plan to revise the constitution.

Mr. Wade, elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2007, had had the Council of Ministers approve a modification of the presidential election allowing the election of a president/vice-president ticket with 25% of the votes in the first round. 

This plan was denounced not only as paving the way for a third term, but also as laying the foundations for a dynastic evolution of power, to the benefit of his son.