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Senegal: 3 intellectuals castigate Macky Sall's "authoritarian drift"

Senegal: 3 intellectuals castigate Macky Sall's "authoritarian drift"
Demonstrators clash with riot police in a district of Dakar, Senegal, on 2 June 2023.   -  
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Leo Correa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Three renowned Senegalese intellectuals have blamed the country's recent outburst of violence on President Macky Sall's "authoritarian drift" and their plans to run for a third term in 2024.

"The situation our country is currently experiencing results from the authoritarian drift of President Macky Sall, " say, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Felwine Sarr, and Boubacar Boris Diop in a column published in the press and social networks.

Senegal was plagued last week by its worst violence in years after the conviction of Ousmane Sonko, a fierce opponent of Mr. Sall and presidential candidate of 2024, to two years in prison in a sex scandal. There were at least 16 deaths.

This verdict renders in the current state Mr. Sonko ineligible. The trial convinced the Senegalese that the objective was "the elimination of a political opponent" in view of the presidential election, say the three authors.

Mr. Sall, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, is "driven by his desire to stay in power at all costs" , they say.

Of the crises that Senegal has known since its independence, this one is "the easiest to resolve (...) it would be enough for a man to say: I give up running for a third term which would dishonor my word as a man, my country and its Constitution", they write.

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr won the French Goncourt literary prize in 2021, Boubacar Boris Diop the American Neustadt literary prize in 2022, and Felwine Sarr is the co-author of a landmark report on the restitution of African cultural heritage.

They overwhelm a power "which imprisons or exiles its most threatening opponents, represses freedoms (especially those of the press) and shoots its own people with revolting impunity". They attack "the accumulating frenzy of a caste which enriches itself illicitly", indifferent according to them to "social misery" and the fate of youth.

The government disagrees with the accusation of authoritarian drift and invokes its attachment to democracy and maintaining order. President Sall maintains the vagueness on his intentions for 2024. The hypothesis of a candidacy meets strong opposition in the name of respect for the Constitution.

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