A Brief History of the Recent Political Situation in Senegal

Recently, unrest in Senegal has caused several Zidisha borrowers to undergo extenuating business circumstances. Many lenders may not be familiar with the current political situation in Senegal. So I thought it would be beneficial to offer a brief history of recent developments in Senegalese politics.

Current Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, of the Senegalese Democrat Party (PDS), has been in office since winning in a second round election in 2000. After two terms, President Wade is seeking an unprecedented third term as President, despite wide spread political unrest.

Initially, presidential terms in Senegal were limited to seven years. In 2001 Senegal adopted a new constitution, this limited presidential terms to 5 years. However, this new standard would not be put into place until President Wade’s first term was over in 2007.

President Wade

President Wade successfully won his bid for a second term as president on October 15, 2006. By successfully winning the majority during the first round, President Wade avoided a runoff election. The main opposition party to the PDS, the Rewmi Party, led by former Prime Minister (formally under President Wade) Idrissa Seck, and other presidential candidates from minority parties, disputed these results and ultimately boycotted the elections to the National Assembly (Senegalese equivalent to the U.S House of Representatives), and the Senate. President Wade was eventually sworn in for his second term on April 3, 2007.

In July 2008, the Senegalese National Assembly reversed the five year presidential term limit back to seven years. This would not take effect during President Wade’s second term as president. It did however, open the possibility of Wade running for a third consecutive term.

On September 17, 2009, it was announced that President Wade was indeed seeking a third term as president. On January 27, 2012 the constitutional amendment, sought by President Wade, was approved by the constitutional congress, allowing him to run for a third term. This announcement brought widespread political unrest, and counter-protests by those loyal to President Wade, deepening political divisions in the country. The presidential elections took place on February 26, 2012. Incumbent candidate Wade won the majority of votes, but not the majority needed to avoided a runoff election. The runoff election between President wade, and second place finisher Macky Sall, are scheduled to take place on March 25, 2012.

During this time of unrest, many Zidisha borrowers have been having a difficult time. Protests are preventing some of our borrowers from conducting business as usual, severely reducing their income. Others, in areas away from the protests, are also experiencing slower sales, which are attributed to fear of further political unrest and the potential for violent protests. We continue to monitor the situation in Senegal, and hope for the unrest to settle after the results of the runoff election are announced and verified. We will continue to update the Zidisha community on the situation in Senegal.

2 thoughts on “A Brief History of the Recent Political Situation in Senegal

  1. Thanks Jason. Good background. And now, thankfully, we know that Mr. Wade is President no more. Senegal just keeps happily bucking the trend in so many other African countries by actually having (relatively) peaceful and democratic transitions of power. This one, as far as I know, was one of the most worrisome, given all the machinations by Mr. Wade leading up to the election. Yet in the end, he stepped down. What a relief.

  2. Senegal has generally been considered very stable, when compared to other countries in Africa. Hopefully now, with the elections over, things will return to normal. Thanks for the comment!

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