Senegal’s president unilaterally reduces his term

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

Monday January 4 2016

Senegal's President Macky Sall talks to journalists during the United Nations conference on climate change on December 1, 2015 at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital Paris. Eleven pilgrims died in accidents in the Holy city of Touba, 200km from Dakar, Senegal, on Sunday and Monday.  PHOTO | LOIC VENANCE

Senegal President Macky Sall talks to journalists during the United Nations conference on climate change on December 1, 2015 at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital Paris. With President Sall’s decree that the reduction takes effect at once, it now means the next presidential election will be in 2017. PHOTO | LOIC VENANCE | AFP 

DAKAR, SUNDAY

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

A statement from the Presidency at the weekend 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.

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.

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