Senegal's democratic process is a source of inspiration for some

Supporters of Senegalese presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye celebrate early results showing that Faye is leading initial presidential election tallies, in Dakar, Senegal, March 24, 2024.

After months of debate and political crisis caused by outgoing president Macky Sall’s decision to delay Senegal elections, the country pulled it off.

Elections took place in a calm, credible, and transparent setting, a new president was elected and is getting ready to be sworn in. Some say what happened in Senegal may inspire others in sub-Saharan Africa.

The tensions of the last few months in Senegal seem to be fading away - to be replaced by the hope that Senegal’s reputation as a beacon of democracy in the region has been restored.

Barrister Agbor Balla, president of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, told VOA, that Senegal’s success may have helped turn the wave of military coups in the region.

“If Macky Sall had stayed longer, it might’ve given rise to a coup d’etat look at the other countries around Senegal in West Africa, we’ve seen how civilian governments have been toppled by the military," said Balla.

A feeling echoed by Ibrahima Diallo, founder of FNDC, National Front for the Defense of Democracy and Human Rights in Guinea, a country that recently experienced a coup. Diallo told VOA the lessons of democracy in Senegal have resonated.

“I think the electoral process in Senegal has given more power and solid arguments to pro-democracy activists in Guinea and the rest of West Africa to say there are no other ways to follow but the democratic way for stability and development of our countries,” he said.

This handout picture taken an distributed by the Senegalese Presidency on March 28, 2024 shows president-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye (3rd R) and outgoing President Macky Sall (R) meeting at the Presidential palace in Dakar.

Diallo said he and others were hopeful the junta led by Mamadi Doumbouya, who toppled Guinean President Alpha Conde in 2021 would soon organize elections, but it never happened.

“We decided to demonstrate to remind the junta that when it took over, it had promised to transition the country into civilian rule, I was arrested and spent 9 months in prison without being tried only because I was asking the junta to respect what they had said by organizing free and fair elections to transition to civilian rule and go back to their military barracks,” he said.

Prince Michael Ngwese Ekoso is the national president of the United Socialist Democratic Party in Cameroon, a country that has been ruled by the same leader for over four decades.

“We’ve had a lot of setbacks on the watch of this current regime. Just like the Senegalese stood up and said we would follow the aspirations of the people and they would follow the institutions of the laws of the land, I am calling on Cameroonians especially young Cameroonians like me as well as other people to go and register massively in the electoral lists,” he said.

At 48 years old, Ekoso hopes to one day replace his country’s president Paul Biya, 91, one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa.

He congratulates the people of Senegal and President-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye whose victory in the recent election followed a political crisis sparked by outgoing President Macky Sall’s failed attempt to postpone the vote. Faye defeated ruling party coalition candidate Amadou Ba in the first round with over 54% of the vote.