Security forces facing supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, in Dakar, June 3, 2023. JOHN WESSELS / AFP
Tribune. A young democracy which has just celebrated its 63rd anniversary, Senegal is today experiencing one of its strongest political and social crises. If each country considers itself apart, Senegal is perhaps a little more, it is an exception. The exception of a country that had a first Christian president at the head of a state made up of 90% Muslims. The exception of a country united in a secular Republic. The exception of a country that speaks to the whole world and to whom the whole world speaks.
This exception deserves a fair discussion of what is happening in Senegal. The death of sixteen people [vingt-trois, selon Amnesty International] during the violence that tore the country apart at the beginning of June, it redoubled this duty of fairness and justice.
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Opinions compete to talk about the situation. It is normal and it is even necessary. Senegal is a country that loves and knows how to discuss politics, football, religion. Personalities such as Boubacar Boris Diop, Felwine Sarr and Mohamed Mbougar Sarr harshly criticized the presidency of Macky Sall in a column published on June 5 on the site Seneweb. They have the right to inflame discord. We have the right to seek harmony in our country, first by listening to them, then by convincing them that an end to the violence was the prerequisite to be achieved as soon as possible.
Other personalities such as the historian Penda Mbow argued that the real issue was first and foremost the social issue and alerted to the risks of a fracture in the country. 70% of Senegalese are under 30 years old, their destiny is not to find themselves in the streets to destroy but in places of training to build.
The world is talking about Senegal, some countries want to have more than their say, they want to interfere. The fate of Senegalese youth does not interest them. Gas and oil reserves are the reason for their covetousness. When geopolitics overflows into the streets, it is always the people who lose out. On another scale, French deputies adopt the postures of defenders of a youth they do not know and of a country they know little about.
Their calls for insurrection on social networks are irresponsible and testify to a neocolonialism that it is high time to deconstruct. They reduce the Senegalese to rioters, without consideration for the Senegalese as voters. In their blindness, they do not see that they are also taking the side of an anti-French xenophobia which excites the rioters.
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We expect those who respect Senegal to behave as friends of Senegal. Faced with grieving families, in a wounded and fractured country, true friends call for dialogue and peace, not discord, riots or insurrection. Those who love Senegal are not on the side of the riot, they are on the side of the people and will respect the choice of the people who vote. They wish us peace.
We are deeply attached to the country’s long tradition of democracy, peace and stability. We once again call on all Senegalese to exercise restraint, refrain from violence and end this crisis through dialogue. Personally, I have confidence in the ability of the Senegalese people to resolve this crisis, to emerge from this difficult moment, through dialogue so that the 2024 elections can take place in accordance with the rules of democracy, law and tradition of this country.
Propose ambitious solutions
Macky Sall did not say that he would seek a second five-year term which would be added to the first seven-year term. If he had this ambition, the Constitution would allow it. This political opportunity is a question that he alone must decide and measure all its aspects. So let the demos, the Senegalese people, decide. It is up to him, by voting, to say if he approves a new election of Macky Sall based on his balance sheet and his program or if he prefers another candidate.
The Senegalese will vote according to the political offer and, from my point of view, nothing is done, nothing is acquired. The presence of women in the public space, the media, the Assembly, diplomacy also makes it possible to wonder why the next president would not be a president. All these political questions will be posed to the Senegalese at the time of the election. In the meantime, let us remind the whole world, the Senegalese are voters, not rioters.
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The Senegalese will vote all the more as they are offered ambitious solutions. To meet the urgent demands of young people, I propose a national civic service and the launch of a universal income of 10,000 euros (6.5 million CFA francs), in the form of a one-time donation, financed by income from the exploitation of oil and gas reserves.
“The Africa World”
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For the 300,000 young people who arrive on the job market every year, consider training as an investment and not as an expense, in order to lead them to careers in technology, agriculture, the environment and of the culture. I am thus launching an appeal for a right to international mobility with the establishment of an Erasmus Africa-Europe-World for students in apprenticeship and vocational training. It is this kind of ideas and projects that Senegalese men and women need. Let us respect their choice to vote and respect the vote of their choice.
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