Two people killed during clashes, several journalists attacked during pre-electoral campaign rally

On 24th February 2019, presidential elections took place in Senegal. According to provisional results by the Commission nationale de recensement des votes (National Vote Counting Commission), announced on 28th February 2019, incumbent president Macky Sall won the elections with 58.27 % of the votes, hereby eliminating a second round run-off. Idrissa Seck came in second, with 20.50 % of the votes, according to the preliminary results, which needs to be validated by the Constitutional Council. The opposition candidates rejected these preliminary results in a statement, but said they would not appeal the results at the Constitutional Council. 

Prior to the elections, human rights group Amnesty International called upon authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure freedom of expression and to ensure that voters could vote in a violence-free climate, after two people were killed, and journalists attacked, during a campaign rally in Tambacounda on 11th February 2019 (see under Assembly and Expression). 

Peaceful Assembly

Two people killed in clashes during campaign rally

On 11th February 2019, two people died in clashes between supporters of incumbent president Macky Sall of the ruling Benno Bokk Yaakar (BBY) and supporters of opposition presidential candidate Issa Sall of the Parti de l’Unité et du Rassemblement (PUR) during a campaign rally in Tambacounda. The police said the following day that 24 people were arrested while weapons, such as knives and clubs, were confiscated. In a statement, five human rights organisations, including the Ligue Sénégalaise des Droits Humains (LSDH; Senegalese League of Human Rights), and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO; African Conference for the Protection of Human Rights) condemned the pre-electoral violence and said

"Our organisations remind candidates and coalitions of their obligation to call on their activists and supporters to respect the freedom of expression, expression and opinion of political opponents and to renounce all recourse to violence." (translated from French)

Eight journalists were among those injured in the clashes (see under Expression). 

Pre-electoral opposition protests

On 11th January 2019, thousands of opposition members and supporters descended on the streets in Dakar to demand transparent elections and protest against the so-called 'sponsorship' ('parrainages') system for presidential candidates to be eligible, according to the 2018 Electoral Code. The protest occurred after the Constitutional Council only retained seven candidates, out of the 27 candidates, who had submitted their candidature after an administrative review based on the required signatures (around 52,000 distributed in at least seven of the 14 regions). As reported previously on the Monitor, the controversial amendments made to the Electoral Code had sparked protests in the country. 

Of the seven accepted candidatures, only five were validated. The candidatures of opposition candidates Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall were rejected on 14th January 2019 based on the fact that both had been previously sentenced, in 2015 and 2018 respectively. 

Previously, on 28th December 2018, thousands of opposition supporters and members gathered in the streets in Dakar to demand 'fair and transparent' presidential elections. The protest was organised by the Front de résistance nationale (FRN; National Front of Resistance), a coalition of seven opposition candidates. Protesters were seen carrying banners with 'no to dictatorship' and 'release political prisoners'. The protest, authorised by the administrative authorities, was organised two days after the deadline for the submission of candidates for the presidential elections before the Constitutional Council (see above). 

Strike actions in the justice sector

According to media reports, the Syndicat des travailleurs de la justice (Trade Union of Justice Workers; SYTJUST) decreed a renewable 48 hours strike starting on 8th January 2019 to demand authorities to fulfill their promises, among others to increase their salaries, made in October 2018. Previously, SYTJUST observed a 48 hours strike on 27th and 28th December 2018 and also organised a series of sit-ins. On 11th January 2019, after a meeting with the First Minister, SYTJUST ended the strike actions. 


According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), eight journalists - travelling in a bus following the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Issa Sall of the opposition Unité et le Rassemblement (PUR) - were attacked during clashes in a campaign rally in Tambacouda on 11th February 2019. The journalists were caught in clashes between supporters of BBY and supporters of PUR. Some of the attackers mistook the journalists to be PUR members, while others were aware that the bus was carrying journalists, according to local partners of MFWA. The eight journalists sustained injuries, with three journalists in critical condition. Two people were killed during the clashes (see above under Peaceful Assembly). 

On 28th November 2018, members of Parliament approved the draft Code on Electronic Communications. As mentioned previously on the Monitor, CSOs expressed their concerns with article 27 of the draft law, which they claim endangers the neutrality of the internet under the guise of 'reasonable measures of traffic management'. They fear that the provisions will give the regulatory authority and operators the power to block, slow down, filter and even monitor content.