Why Frustration With Senegal’s President Is Mounting Ahead of Legislative Elections

Why Frustration With Senegal’s President Is Mounting Ahead of Legislative Elections
Security agents stand next to a large photograph of Senegalese President Macky Sall at the start of a campaign rally, Dakar, Senegal, March 23, 2012 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Last Friday, thousands of Senegalese turned out for a protest at Dakar’s central Obelisk Square to vent their anger with President Macky Sall, who is widely hailed abroad as an effective democratic reformer.

The protesters, many of them dressed in black, were responding to a call from a collective of rappers and journalists known as “Y’en a marre”—meaning “Fed Up” in French—that in 2011 orchestrated massive demonstrations against the bid by then-President Abdoulaye Wade to run for a third term. The group’s ability to mobilize Senegalese youth helped Sall defeat Wade in an election the following year, but on Friday Y’en a marre’s leaders were marching side by side with members of Wade’s political party.

“Those who decried us yesterday are now with us, and those who were with us now denigrate us,” said Fadel Barro, a Y’en a marre coordinator, describing how the political landscape in Senegal had shifted.

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