Senegal’s president unilaterally reduces presidential term from 7 to 5 years

Senegalese President Macky Sall has unilaterally announced the reduction of his presidential term from seven to five years.

A statement from the Presidency on Friday said the reduction of the presidential term takes effect immediately.

This means there will be no referendum on the issue which was previously slated for April 2016.

The statement said the president’s decision was intended to end the confusion among politicians over the holding of the referendum.

President Sall said the decision was among the 15-point constitutional development ‘action plan’ he is pushing.

For months, the opposition had been arguing that the referendum would not be held due to cost concerns.

At the same time, opposition leaders charged that the government was exaggerating the cost of the exercise.

Senegal inherited the seven-year presidential term at independence from France in 1960.

French statesman Charles de Gaulle had inscribed the tenure in France through the constitution of the Fifth Republic which he commandeered after the Second World War.

Heir apparent

Senegal maintained the same up to the year 2000 when incoming president Abdoulaye Wade promised to reduce the tenure to five years but failed to do so throughout his 12-year-rule that ended in 2012.

With President Sall’s decree that the reduction takes effect at once, it now means the next presidential election will be in 2017.

Meanwhile, the former ruling Socialist Party is expected to name the mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, as its presidential candidate in 2017, sources said.

The announcement from the party is likely to be on January 9.

Mr Khalifa Sall is a rising phenomenon and very promising candidate whom the incumbent president will have to contend with during the polls.

He defeated ex-President Wade’s son, Karim, for the Dakar mayoral seat in 2009 and has since been basking in the adulation of Senegalese for making impressive inroads in developing the city.

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