Sunday, November 27, 2011

Senegal: waiting to explode

At about three months to the presidential elections in Senegal, the demons are rearing their heads. As the debates are heating up, and political sentiments are rising on the mercury scale, it is our duty to raise an alarm. Senegal is a political situation waiting to explode. Here are 5 points to consider:

The Constitutional Crisis

The country revised its constitution in 2001. Most of the revisions were linked to the office of the president, its prerogatives, tenure and duration. The revision shortened the duration of the tenure from 7 to 5 years. This tenure could only be renewed once. While obtaining an extension of presidential powers, the then President touted this "success in democracy", proclaiming himself as an avant-gardist and reassuring the population that he will no longer be a candidate in 2012.

Now 2012 is months away.. and someone is debating whether the 2 tenures should take into account the initial tenure.. The language is clear. The answer is Yes. But the president seems to either have lost a part of his democracy memory or forgot his language lessons!

The President who is looking for preachers of "another gospel"
As a legal person, the first reaction will be to refer to the constitutional experts of the country. Naturally. All of them in the country have spoken, except for one. All those who have spoken have said the same thing: President Abdoulaye Wade IS NOT constitutionally a possible candidate. And what do we see? The President who hires "International constitution experts" to a Dakar meeting so they can come read what Senegalese wrote. And these International preachers are insisting that "Yes", Wade can run for presidency in 2012 at the age of 86

Enter the Constitutional Council

Yes, the ultimate decision lies with the Constitutional Council. Though all its members are hand-picked by the President and some have attended the "International constitution conference" and that it has already jailed an activist wrote a strong-worded letter warning them of any unconstitutional decision in the Wade, issue, some people are still hoping that the constitutional council will render an unbiased decision.

The silence of the international community

I have not heard from the African Union. I have not heard from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Union Monétaire Ouest Africaine is as dumb as ever. Neither have I read any official position of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. This silence is worrying.

A population that is thinking "we can handle it" and "it cannot happen to us"

Six months ago, many Senegalese were publishing on Facebook and Twitter, firm convictions of everything being under control. At about three months to the elections, the tendency is clear. The pro-Wade group are sure that nothing will happen and their candidate will win. The anti-Wade group are professing the same: nothing will happen. He wont get clearance. As the days approach, the die-hard believers are still there:
Folks who believe they have come a long way as a country,
People who believe that popular protests will give them victory,
Senegalese who continue to think that "everything is under control"

When it is only waiting to explode.