Scroll to the top

{{ subpage.title }}

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko listens to the presidential candidate he is backing in the March 24 election, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, as they hold a joint press conference a day after they were released from prison, in Dakar, Senegal March 15, 2024.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Sonko takes the reins in Senegal

Newly inaugurated Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, in his first act in office, appointed his mentor Ousmane Sonko as prime minister on Wednesday. The popular, reform-oriented Sonko will be the driving force behind big changes. Case in point: Faye's manifesto proposed an audit of the oil, gas, and mining sectors, which could bring more cash from natural resource extraction into Dakar’s coffers.

Sonko was banned from running for president in the most recent elections, but Faye subbed in, even using the slogan “Diomaye is Sonko.” Sonko is now calling the shots, says Eurasia Group analyst Tochi Eni-Kalu.

Read moreShow less

Firefighters work at the site where a building collapsed following the earthquake, in Hualien, Taiwan, in this handout provided by Taiwan's National Fire Agency on April 3, 2024.

Taiwan National Fire Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Taiwan earthquake, Ukrainian drone strikes, Sisi’s third term, Exodus from Haiti’s capital, Africa’s youngest elected leader

7.4: A 7.4-magnitude earthquake, followed by several mighty aftershocks, struck Taiwan on Wednesday. The quake killed nine people, injured at least 821, damaged buildings and infrastructure, and triggered mudslides. It was the largest to hit the country in 25 years and was also felt in parts of China.

Read moreShow less

Dakar, Senegal.- In photos taken on March 24, 2024, Bassirou Diomaye Faye (photo), leader of the main opposition party casts his vote during the presidential elections.

Handout / Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

Opposition candidate Faye wins Senegal’s presidency in landslide

Preliminary results on Monday showed opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye winning Senegal’s presidential election outright with 53% of the vote. Incumbent party candidate and former Prime Minister Amadou Baconceded to Faye ahead of official results, meaning the country will avoid a runoff vote.

Faye is a close ally of the popular opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from standing because of a defamation conviction, but is expected to play a major role in Faye’s administration. Outgoing President Macky Sall delayed elections from their intended February date, in part to buy time to improve his party’s standing against Sonko, but was checked by the country’s Constitutional Council.

Read moreShow less

FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Senegalese presidential candidate Amadou Ba holds a poster during his campaign rally in Guediawaye on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal March 10, 2024.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Election delay fuels close contest in Senegal

Voters in Senegal face a choice between continuity or a new direction for West Africa’s most stable democracy as they head to the polls Sunday.

The country’s reputation for fair and peaceful transitions of power looked like it was at risk last month when President Macky Sall called for a 10-month delay of elections scheduled for Feb. 25. The move was an attempt to buy time to bolster support for his party and its candidate, Amadou Ba, but it backfired, according to Eurasia Group analyst Tochi Eni-Kalu.

"The Constitutional Council pushed back against proposals to delay the election beyond the end of Sall's mandate on 2 April, leaving him with no choice but to accept their rulings in the face of opposition and public pressure" he says.

Opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye is now riding a wave of momentum thanks to anger over the delay, but it likely won’t be enough to get him over the 50% mark he needs to win outright. If Ba also falls short, they go to a runoff, and that’s where it gets interesting. Unlike other close elections in Senegal, in 2000 and 2012, the opposition isn’t necessarily unified against the incumbent.

“The key thing to watch is how the other big fish align,” says Eni-Kalu.

If Ba and his BBY party remain in power, Eni-Kalu expects broad continuity with Sall’s administration. A Faye victory could see Senegal take on a more nationalist tack, though it’s not clear how far he can push the most radical proposals, like leaving the CFA Franc currency union.

Senegal’s democracy at risk as president calls off election

On Saturday, President Macky Sall called off the election for his replacement without naming a new date, which means he will remain in power extralegally, thrusting the former rock of West African stability into crisis. On Monday, Sall called a special session of Parliament to consider a bill endorsing his decision and allowing a delay of up to six months.

What happened? Karim Wade, son of Sall’s predecessor and a political rival, was running for president but a constitutional court blocked his candidacy last month, alleging he held dual French and Senegalese citizenship. Wade claims he had renounced his French citizenship, and his party launched an investigation into two of the court’s justices last week. Then, in a masterstroke of political judo, Sall backed the investigation – and used it as the excuse to call off the elections.

Will Sall get away with it? The opposition parties rejected the cancellation, and police used tear gas on scattered groups of protesters in Dakar on Sunday, but the mass of civil society did not take to the streets. If elections do go forward – there’s no guarantee – the constitution requires 80 days' notice, and who knows how long the inquiry will take.

On the international stage, the Economic Community of West African States expressed concern but did not condemn the cancellation. ECOWAS has struggled to maintain democratic unity, with military juntas seizing control of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years, all of which announced their withdrawal last week.

Dozens of people in a cayuco on their arrival at the dock of La Restinga, on November 4, 2023, in El Hierro, Canary Islands (Spain).

H.Bilbao / Europa Press/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Senegalese youth leave home, Election officials leave their jobs, Jews leave France, workers (may) leave Vegas casinos

32,095: In a record-breaking wave of migration, figures from Spanish authorities show over 32,000 undocumented migrants — mostly from Senegal — have landed on the Canary Islands this year. Senegal was once a bastion of democratic stability, but President Macky Sall’s bitter struggles with an opposition popular among the country’s young people have convinced them to seek brighter futures overseas.

Read moreShow less

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko speaks during a news conference in Dakar.

REUTERS/Cooper Inveen

Senegalese opposition leader sentenced, 2024 bid in peril

On Thursday, at least nine people were killed in Senegal in violence that erupted after opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for "corrupting youth" by encouraging the debauchery of an underage massage parlor employee – whom he was simultaneously acquitted of raping and issuing death threats against. This is a very big deal since it might bar Sonko from running for president of the West African nation in February 2024, and it’s unclear whether he can appeal.

Read moreShow less
Annie Gugliotta

World Cup politics go way beyond Qatar

The 2022 World Cup now underway in Qatar is the most political edition of the tournament in decades. But it's also playing out politically far away from the host country in parts of the globe where fans often pay more attention to the sport than to their elected officials.

For instance, in Brazil, supporters of left-wing President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva want to reclaim the yellow jersey from the fans of outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazilian progressives say Bolsonaro’s supporters co-opted the color of their five-time winning national side during the recent presidential election campaign.

Let’s find more examples from a few Eurasia Group soccer nuts, ahem, experts.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily