Senegal: Upholding democracy and human rights during the presidential election

Senegalese police crack down on protests over election delay in Dakar, February 2024. Image: Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

As Senegal approaches its pivotal presidential election on 24 March, 2024, ARTICLE 19 calls on the authorities to safeguard human rights, particularly freedom of expression – a cornerstone of democratic integrity. We emphasise the critical importance of protecting these fundamental rights during the electoral process to ensure a fair, transparent, and inclusive democratic transition.

‘Furthermore, we demand that the internet remain open and accessible on the day of the election. Any attempts to stifle or manipulate online access would constitute a serious violation of democratic principles.’

The lead-up to the 24 March election has been marred by concerning infringements on freedom of expression and escalating human rights violations,” says Alfred Nkuru Bulakali, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Senegal and West Africa. “We reiterate our call on authorities’ responsibilities to uphold fundamental freedoms and we urgently implore all stakeholders to ensure the remainder of the electoral campaign is conducted with utmost peace, honouring differing opinions and embracing tolerance and diversity. As we approach the crucial election on Sunday, 24 March, we call for a peaceful atmosphere that upholds the integrity of the democratic process. It is imperative that the media is granted access to reliable information, enabling them to fulfil their vital role in providing accurate coverage of the vote.”

As candidates campaign for the presidential election, widespread instances of violence have been observed in various cities and regions, including Dakar, Mbour, and Kaffrine. Clashes between political supporters have led to the destruction of public and private property, including campaign vehicles.  

In the face of this violence and tensions, it is imperative for the government to fulfil its obligations to protect and promote a safe environment for candidates and citizens to hold the election in a fair and peaceful manner.

ARTICLE 19 urges the Senegalese authorities to take concrete action to protect the rights of voters and the people of Senegal, as set out in numerous African resolutions including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Resolution on elections in Africa – ACHPR/Res.433(LXV)2019, which calls upon State parties to the African Charter to create conducive conditions for peaceful, free, fair, and transparent elections and referendums, allowing citizens to exercise their right to vote without intimidation, violence, or other obstacles, and to uphold the credibility of the electoral process, and ensure that citizens can exercise their right to vote in a safe atmosphere, devoid of intimidation and violence.

The integrity of the 24 March election hinges upon the government’s active commitment to upholding human rights and democratic principles. ARTICLE 19 further urges all stakeholders, including political actors, civil society organisations, and international partners, to work collaboratively to uphold the rule of law, protect fundamental freedoms, and safeguard the democratic process in Senegal.

For more information, please contact:

Maateuw Mbaye, Protection and Civic Space Officer, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email:   T: +221785958337

Aissata Diallo Dieng, Office Manager, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email:   T:+221338690322 

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