Press Release: Statement on the Current Political and Security Developments in Senegal

Press Release: Statement on the Current Political and Security Developments in Senegal


Statement on the Current Political and Security Developments in Senegal

Tuesday, 06 June 2023

We, the underlisted civil society organisations in West Africa, note with deep concern recent political and security developments in Senegal, following the verdict against leader of the opposition Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF) party, Ousmane Sonko, who was sentenced to two years in prison for “corrupting youth” on 01 June 2023. The scenes of ongoing violent clashes between protesters and security forces as well as and the several regrettable civilian casualties that we have witnessed over the past few days are not only troubling but also highlight the risks that the ongoing political crisis portends for Senegal’s democracy and for peace and stability in the entire West African sub-region.

We are alarmed by the increasing repeated crackdowns on dissidents and protesters by law enforcement officers in Senegal, as the country inches closer to its presidential elections scheduled for February 2024. We note in particular that the heavy handed responses by law enforcement, including the disproportionate use of force; digital restrictions by the state, among others constitute flagrant violation of fundamental human rights and are inconsistent with democratic commitments enshrined in the Senegalese constitution and other international norms and frameworks that Senegal subscribes to, including, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6, 27/5 and 27/31, and the African Charter On Human And Peoples’ Rights. We are further concerned that the ongoing political crisis is likely to result in the reversal of the democratic gains chalked by Senegal over the years.

We note also that the successive criminal prosecutions of Mr. Sonko over the past few months, have not only tested the resilience of Senegal’s long-standing democracy, but also threatens to jeopardise the strategic role it plays in the maintenance of democratic stability in West Africa. We note in particular that the current political crisis has been fueled by perceptions of harassment and persecution of political opponents, as well as concerns that the President Macky Sall may be considering running for a third presidential term after his constitutional mandated term ends in 2024. Unfortunately, while the Senegal’s constitution has enshrined a maximum two-term presidential limit, President Sall’s has so far failed to denounce rumours that he is considering running for a third term.

Despite this, we are encouraged by calls for national dialogue from the various political actors including the President Macky Sall and several opposition parties. We believe that a constructive national dialogue with all the stakeholders – ruling government, political parties, civil society, etc. will be a first step to returning normalcy to the Senegal and ensuring respect for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Senegal and all who are fighting for respect of rights and freedoms, respect for rule of law, as well as a better and democratic Senegal. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the victims, their families and the people of Senegal during this crisis. We reiterate our confidence that a peaceful and democratic response to the crisis provides the best avenue to resolve the crisis and to protect lives and individual liberties.

We therefore call for immediate actions by the following:

1. The President Macky Sall Administration should:

i. Respect citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.

ii. Put in place the appropriate safeguards and processes to ensure the respect for human rights and the rule of law, protection of journalists and civil society, as well as control the excesses by security forces as they attempt to restore calm.

iii. Create safe and inclusive spaces for dialogue as a pathway to restoring Senegal to its previous position as the bastion of stable democracy in West Africa.

iv. Immediately restore citizens’ digital rights by lifting the restriction on access to the internet and social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Telegram, among others.

v. Reiterate the Administration’s commitment to abide by relevant international commitments of Senegal including the Lomé Declaration of July 2000 on the framework for an OAU response to unconstitutional changes of government (AHG/Decl.5 (XXXVI); the 2002 OAU/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa; and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which prohibit all actions, including any amendment or revision of the constitution or legal instruments, that constitute “an infringement on the principles of democratic change of government.”

vi. Demonstrate democratic leadership and statesmanship by confirming the President’s respect for the constitutionally mandated two-term presidential limit and clear suspicions of a third term agenda.

vii. Respect the right to liberty and freedom of movement of Ousmane Sonko by immediately lifting the restrictions placed on him and allowing him to participate freely in the political process.

viii. The Government of Senegal should Conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the allegations of human rights violations during the protests, hold those responsible accountable, and provide reparations to the victims and their families.

2. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), and the international community should:

i. Proactively engage the Senegalese government and people – including civil society – at this challenging time for a lasting solution to the political and security crisis.

ii. Fast-track the finalisation of the revised Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and particularly proscribe third-termism for Member States.

iii. Act swiftly to condemn the deteriorating political and security developments in Senegal, and more importantly impress on President Macky Sall to reaffirm his commitment to the constitutionally mandated two-term limit.

3. We call on all political parties and civil society groups in Senegal (and across the region) to support inclusive dialogue and redouble their commitment to the ideals of democracy and constitutionalism as they stand in solidarity with the Senegalese people for an orderly, peaceful, and democratic state.

• Abiodun Essiet Initiative for Girls, Nigeria
• Aspilos Foundation, Nigeria
• Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF)
• Alliances for Africa
• Africa Center for Information and Development (ACID), Norway
• Bailo Citoyen, Burkina Faso
• BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB) Nigeria
• Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) Sierra Leone
• Cedar Seed Foundation, Nigeria
• Center for Research and Policy Development, Nigeria
• Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (CDD) Ghana
• Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Nigeria
• CLEEN Foundation, Nigeria
• Community Focus Foundation, Ghana
• Democracy Hub, Ghana
• Democratic Accountability Lab, Ghana
• Fix The Country, Ghana.
• Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA)
• Gender Mobile, Nigeria
• Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC)
• Human Rights Reporters Ghana-NGO (HRRG)
• Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development, Nigeria
• INCRESE Nigeria
• Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) Sierra Leone
• Kebekatche Women Development & Resource Centre, Nigeria
• Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation (MAWA – Foundation)
• Moremi Initiative, Nigeria
• Nyang-Sanneh Institute for Social Research and Justice (NSI)
• Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE), Liberia
• Network of Women with Disabilities, Nigeria
• Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN)
• Patients Friend Foundation – PFF Ghana
• Renel Ghana Foundation
• Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre- RULAAC; Lagos, Nigeria
• Sahel Activistes Senegal
• Social Watch Benin
• Strategic Thinkers Network – Africa
• The Electoral Hub, Nigeria
• Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO)
• The Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO), the Gambia
• Transition Monitoring Group, (TMG) Nigeria
• West Africa Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub)
• West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
• West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS)
• West Africa Drug Policy Network (WADPN)
• West African Youth for Peace Network
• Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Center (WARDC)
• Women in Law & Development in Africa (WILDAF)


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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.