By Elimane Ndao
In early March, daily protests against President Macky Sall rocked Senegal. Security forces reacted violently to the protests and killed 10 young protesters. Nearly two weeks later, calm has returned, but many Senegalese are waiting for concrete action from the government on democratic, social and economic issues.
The difficult economic situation, aggravated by the impacts of Covid 19, pushed thousands of young people to cry out in frustration. One young protester described the dire economic situation he faces. “Since 2012 in Senegal, young people are tired. We wake up in the morning without 1000 francs in our pockets. Macky Sall has not respected any of his promises,” he said.
Entrepreneur Moustapha Ndour believes that the lack of government support has pushed most of the protesters to the streets. “We evolve in an environment that is quite difficult. When we launch a project, we encounter difficulties related to financing, and to the acquisition of capital. Most of the funds that are allocated, many young people do not feel included. This is why so many young people are frustrated,” he explained.
In an address to the nation on March 8, President Macky Sall promised to support young people in job creation, project financing and entrepreneurship. Appeals for peace from religious leaders shortly thereafter contributed to a return to calm after the protests that left at least 10 people dead.
But for blogger and civil society actor Jaly Badiane, with three years to go before the next presidential election in 2024, the calm seems precarious. “By 2024, the tension will be thick. It will be everywhere. For me, it’s already in motion. The last protests and everything that happened in Dakar showed that the discontent is general and it persists. People are not going to let it go like they used to. Apathy for me, is gone,” she said.
“Between now and 2024, we are going to live years of tension, years of protests, years of political tensions, and for the groups that were in the streets, the battle will be very difficult,” Badiane added.
The M2D, a movement for the defense of democracy that brings together civil society associations and political parties like Ousmane Sonko’s Pastef, has temporarily suspended its demonstrations. Among other things, it is demanding the release of individuals arrested during the unrest.