Senegal: Parliament Approves Electoral Law Amendments

Under the changes voted on June 18, 2018, candidates need to be endorsed by a number of voters.

Senegal now has a new electoral code after Parliament on June 18, 2018 debated and passed some amendments, though the session was boycotted by some opposition parliamentarians, Radio France International, RFI reported. The changes proposed by President Macky Sall fix eligibility conditions for all elected positions.

For example, to stand for the presidential poll, a candidate must be of Senegalese nationality only and garner 0.8 per cent of signatures of those on electoral rolls in at least seven of the country’s 14 regions. For the ruling coalition, the amendments are a major step forward in Senegal’s democracy.

Interior Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye however regretted the fact that a section of the opposition did not participate in discussions on the changes before they were submitted to Parliament for vote.

Some 111 Members of Parliament voted for the amendments, while 14 were voted against. Aly Ngouille Ndiaye in defending the bill recalled that endorsement by voters was now a conditionality for people to be allowed to stand for any election.

Independent candidates were already subjected to this rule, which now concerns candidates of political parties and legally-constituted coalitions. While reminding the public that he will organise the forthcoming elections, Ngouille Ndiaye gave assurances the polls will be conducted in a transparent manner.

The new Act now needs only the President’s signature to come into force. Ruling party member Abdou Mbow said the law will prevent elections from being “chaotic” by ruling out candidates with no chance of winning.

Parliamentary elections last year were marred by voting problems caused in part by the record 47 candidate lists which voters had to choose from. But opposition party members say the new law is an attempt by President Sall to silence opponents.

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