US praises Senegal's President for bowing out of 2024 election

Senegal's President Macky Sall arrives for the closing session of the New Global Financial Pact Summit, June 23, 2023 in Paris. [File, Reuters]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has praised Senegal President Macky Sall’s announcement that he would not seek a third term in next year’s election.

President Sall announced his decision in a nationally televised speech, ending weeks of speculation that raised the possibility of political uncertainty in the West African nation.

“Senegal is more than just me,” Sall said in Monday’s speech, “it's full of people capable of taking Senegal to the next level.”

In a statement Blinken said, “We believe that free and fair elections and transitions of power yield stronger institutions and more stable and prosperous countries. President Sall’s clear statement sets an example for the region, in contrast to those who seek to erode respect for democratic principles, including term limits.”

Sall was first elected in 2012, defeating incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade who was seeking a third term of his own. Sall was re-elected in 2019 under a revised constitution that limited a president to two five-year terms – but his supporters have argued that Sall could seek a third term because he was elected under the previous constitution.

Speculation that Sall could run again in 2024 set off nationwide protests last month between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko in which 16 people were killed after Sonko was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison on sexual assault charges.