Senegal’s Applauses Highlights Africa’s Persistent Political Stagnation


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Opposition parties in Africa have had difficulty winning political offices, from the grassroots to the executive bodies. The only party that dominated the country’s decision-making authority and finance was the party that held power soon after independence. Hence, it’s just like ending colonial power to establish party colonialism.

Nevertheless, most of these parties, the ruling parties in Africa, had introduced despotic elements in the legal instruments of their countries to justify the result of their undemocratic actions, as seen in the Republican Constitution of Tanganyika 1962 and the 1965 interim constitution of Tanzania. Before Senegal, Africa had few figures to look up to as examples of states where power has been shifted to the Opposition party; most of the Opposition leaders ended up in prison, asylum, disabled, co-opted or murdered. I think Tundu Lissu fits this part better.

Senegal’s victory of the opposition party under Bassirou Diomaye is unique in its way since no change of constitution or establishment of a new electoral commission formed to replace the existing one in recent years, media, judiciary, civil society, or repressive apparatus of the state retain the independence that the rest of Africa will desire.

His article aimed to explore the miracle behind the victory of the Oppositional party in Senegal and its implications for, first, the coup de tat neighbourhoods and Africa in general. It also recommends some insights that the Opposition party in Tanzania might think of when they prepare for the 2024/2025 general election.

Read related: Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s Political Triumph Means Very Little to East African Democracy.

How Did the Miracle Happen?

Senegal electoral commission, Commission √©lectorale national Autonome (CENA) under Doudou Ndir and the ruling party history have not been quite unique from the rest of the African electoral commission, worthy mention dramatic experience of Kenya’s independence electoral commission to that of Tanzania that regarded not to have independence.

The only difference observed is how CENA’s staff realised the potential effects of being loyal to the public rather than the ruling party and that some African countries failed to detangle them from the ruling party’s domination. It’s not a simple task since most of the staff who are appointed to electoral commission offices have loyalty to either the president or a cadre of the party; it requires a patriotic spirit to discern that the party seek continuity by whatever means possible while the electoral Office is there to ensure legality and legitimacy of the office in question.

Suppose the opposition party in Tanzania want to change history. In that case, it should not simply start by reforming the electoral commission to put new duties and model of operation. Still, by ensuring staff are as loyal as possible to the citizens since their loyalty to their duty can be compromised by the threat of death or losing their job, that is when patriotism is challenged and scaled unless one is ready to die for his national.

Nevertheless, sometimes these staff might think of losing their position after oppositional parties hold the office; nonetheless, they think so is disregarding civil servant standards.

The suppressive state apparatus in Senegal is quite modal to look up since cadres of the ruling party dominate most of these apparatuses in Africa or have close ties with the ruling party as a way to secure their position. In Kenya, for example, citizens have been quite aggressive in response to how their freedom of expression has been compromised; the possible solution has been police or military brutality.

The politeness of Ugandans, Rwandans and Tanzanians have taken for granted by their government in a sense that Sahel countries such as Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, among others, which have the same politeness and subject culture similar to East African countries, except for Kenya, the military have step out to stand on the position of people to bring change that dreamed of being impossible.

Senegal, which had riots months before the general election, implies that the military under Major General Birame Diop and the police force understood the demarcation line of their duties to the citizens and submitted their greed over the patriotism that many African countries will struggle to build.

Also, read The 2024 & 2025 General Elections Will Be Measured Against Adherence to African Court Ruling.

A repressive apparatus that is self-determination and greed-free and does not fall on the temptation of ruling parties to allow democratisation in Africa to consolidate is very important for Africans to consider.

Voters’ loyalty or party identification proves not to be a challenge to bring the opposition party into political offices; Senegal acts as an alert to other countries that their ruling party have the majority of voters and depends solely on them as a base on their victory.

Senegal’s experience shows that the issue in question or the agenda of the particular party can significantly damage the loyalty of people from their formerly identified party, as unemployment was the case in Senegal, and so can it be in other African countries, where the majority of its graduates and non-graduates youths suffer from it.

Opposition parties must be sure of the issues they present before citizens to be as crucial and target a class of majority voters. This can have negative results in countries where charism is a trend, and people think that being loyal to the person in an executive office or party is better than focusing on building a system where meritocracy is at heart.

Only if the opposition parties of countries like Rwanda and Tanzania could have been able to research and come up with an agenda that first does not divide people on their religious beliefs, traditions or moral standards will guarantee their victory to the maximum degree.

The legacy of neighbourhood coups has structured the Senegal general election; the assumption is that the country should be under an opposition party rather than a military junta.

If that were the case, opposition parties far from the Sahel line would have little prospect of victory since, recently, no military coup has succeeded in East Africa; Rwandan and Ugandan attempts were discovered way before they were launched, and that made it impossible for bureaucrats and staff members not to think of any possible way to relieve themselves from the colonialism of the ruling party.

How could you surrender executive office to the opposition party while the military is entirely under state control as representatives of the party and not people? How could that be the case in a country like Tanzania, where the president is the chief commander and appointee of a major General of the people’s army?

I think electoral commission staff have to be presented with an alternative and yet safe option; that is, if power is handed to the opposition party, the security of the state that is under military and police will not be compromised, or electoral commission staff will not be at threat of losing their job or murdered unless otherwise Most of Africa countries will delay having democracy consolidated.

The uniqueness of African countries in terms of experiences, political culture, education level of the citizens, role of the military, independence of media and legal systems would require oppositional parties to employ different styles and strategies to win office.

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Mary Stanley Michason
Mary Stanley Michason
11 days ago

The article is interesting

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