Senegal. In early January, the world-famous Senegalese singer and regime critic Youssou N’Dour announced his intention to run in the February presidential election. However, his candidacy was halted by the Constitutional Court at the end of the month when he failed to collect the number of valid signatures required to become presidential candidate. The candidacies of two other opposition politicians were also stopped. The court approved 14 candidates, including incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, who was severely criticized for running for a second re-election despite the fact that a president may only sit for two terms, which Wade had already done. The fact that the Constitutional Court still approved President Wade’s candidacy was not unexpected, since he had appointed the court’s members himself.
The election went quietly. The turnout was just over 51% when the first round of the presidential election was held on February 26. Wade received the most votes, 35%. In second place was Macky Sall with 27%. The 50-year-old Sall had held several ministerial posts in Wade’s governments, including the prime minister in 2004-07. Other candidates received less than 15% each. Since no one reached up to 50% of the vote, there was a second round of elections on March 25. Then stood the election between Wade, who represented the Senegal Democratic Party (PDS) and Sall, who was running for Alliance for the Republic (APR).
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Sall won the second round with 66% of the vote against Wade, who got 34%. The result was reported shortly after the polling stations were closed. Wade acknowledged being defeated directly and his spokesmen said the election “once again proved that Senegal is a great democracy”. The African Union, which had observers in place, believed that the peaceful elections were a sign that Africa was moving towards democracy and transparent elections. According to EU observers, the choice was correct. The turnout was 55%.
On April 2, Macky Sall took office as new president. He was sworn in for a seven-year term, but had during his election campaign promised to reduce the president’s term to five years and to keep the restriction for two terms. Sall had also promised to fight poverty, and a concrete measure was to reduce the government’s labor costs in order to lower basic commodity prices. As prime minister, Sall appointed the former banker Abdoul Mbaye who did not belong to any party. Singer N’Dour became Minister of Culture and Tourism. N’Dour stood behind Sall in the election since his own candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Court. Four of the 23 ministers in the new government were women.
The July 1 parliamentary election meant a landslide victory for President Sall’s government coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar (United in Hope), which included the APR. The coalition took home 119 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. Former President Wade’s party PDS received only 12 seats. Only 37% of voters participated in the election. The proportion of women in Parliament was higher than before, 64 out of 150. This was the result of a new law that had been approved in 2010 and which says that at least half of all candidates on the various party lists should be women.
At least 13 people were killed in August in floods caused by unusually heavy rain. Thousands of people became homeless. The disaster caused President Sall to cancel a South Africa visit and travel home. He then said he wanted to close the Senate to use the money that would be saved to prevent new floods. In September, both chambers of Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the Senate. Critics said this was just a way for Sall to weaken the opposition, as most senators supported Wade.
In August, the Senegalese government signed an agreement with the African Union to set up a special court to bring Chad’s former president Hissène Habré to trial. Habré was accused of killing and torturing thousands of oppositionists in his home country during the 1980s when he reigned after taking power in a coup in 1982. He was driven out of Chad in 1990 and lived in Senegal since 2005. The International Court of Justice in The Hague had previously ordered Senegal to bring Habré to trial or extradite him to Belgium, but this had not happened due to uncertainty surrounding the financing of the Special Court.
In December, Senegal’s parliament formally approved the establishment of the court. In early December, the separatist Movement for Casamance’s Democratic Forces (MFDC) released eight Senegalese held hostage. Some of them had been captured for over a year. This was the first concrete result of the new peace talks in which the Catholic Church mediates. The resumed talks aim to end the low-intensity 30-year conflict in Casamance in the south, where the fragmented separatist movement demands independence or increased autonomy for the region.
According to countryaah, the population of Senegal in 2012 was 14,578,348, ranking number 71 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.830% yearly, and the population density was 75.7204 people per km2.