AFRICA/SENEGAL - Upcoming presidential elections, the Bishops call for calm

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Dakar (Agenzia Fides) - "We invite all to calm and serenity towards the problems posed by the upcoming elections" say the Bishops of Senegal in a message that was presented to the press by His Exc. Mgr. Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, one month before the presidential elections to be held on February 24th.
The eve of the vote is tense due to the controversy which broke out after the approval in April 2018 of the law of "sponsorship" which provides each candidate to submit his candidacy accompanied by the signatures of at least 65,000 people registered in the lists of voters (equal to 1 % of the electoral body). The law was approved by Parliament despite the criticism of the opposition that stated the measure was introduced to encourage the re-election of outgoing President Macky Sall.
The message of the Episcopal Conference was published on 22 January two days after the Constitutional Council published the final list of candidates for the election. Out of 27 submitted sponsorship dossiers, as many as 22 were rejected by the Council, two of which were invalidated for judicial reasons: Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, and Khalifa Sall, the former mayor of Dakar. Both were at the center of judicial incidents but at the same time have a strong following among the population.
Faced with political tensions, the Bishops invited everyone to "turn to God" to get inspiration in order to act better. "We invite all candidates to give priority, in their programs, beyond political rivalries, to a language that respects the other and the community, to truth, justice, the promotion of the common good, in the interest of all citizens", they emphasize in the message.
Citing the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Peace, the Bishops recalled that "good politics is at the service of peace". This means rejecting "corruption, denial of rights and failure to comply with community rules, illegal enrichment, the justification of power by force or under the pretext of "reason of State". (LM) (Agenzia Fides, 24/1/2019)