2012 Senegalese presidential election

Presidential elections were held in Senegal on 26 February 2012,[1][2] amidst controversy over the constitutional validity of a third term for incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade. In the runoff on 25 March,[3] Macky Sall defeated the incumbent president. The 2015 documentary film Incorruptible chronicles both campaigns as well as the youth movement Y'en a Marre, which led protests against Wade's administration.

2012 Senegalese presidential election

← 2007 26 February 2012 (first round)
25 March 2012 (second round)
2019 →
Turnout51.58% (first round)
55.00% (second round)
Candidate Macky Sall Abdoulaye Wade
Popular vote 1,909,244 992,556
Percentage 65.80% 34.20%

Results by region
Sall:      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%
Wade:      50-60%      60-70%

President before election

Abdoulaye Wade

Elected President

Macky Sall



In July 2008, the National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment increasing the length of the presidential term to seven years, as it was prior to the adoption of the 2001 constitution. This extension didn't apply to Abdoulaye Wade's 2007–2012 term, but Minister of Justice Madické Niang stressed on this occasion that Wade could potentially run for re-election in 2012 if he was still healthy.[4]

The 26 February 2012 date for the election was decreed by President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade on 23 November 2010. President Wade indicated that he would stand for his third term, set at seven years by the constitution.[5][6] While the 2001 constitution limits a President to two terms, Wade argued that his 2000 election to his first seven-year term falls under the previous constitution, which did not provide for term limits.[7]

2010–2011 protests and violence


In April 2010, Wade came under fire for unveiling the African Renaissance Monument, a monument that was deemed too expensive. It was also criticised by religious leaders for the immodest attire of the women in the monument. While there was domestic criticism, the United States' Jesse Jackson and Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika praised Wade's representation of Africa. Similarly, North Korea, who contributed to the construction of the monument in exchange for a tract of land, congratulated Wade.[citation needed]

In December 2010, Senegalese troops engaged and repulsed 100 MFDC rebels after they attacked Bignona, Casamance.[8] In February 2011, the Senegalese government cut ties with Iran, later alleging that forensic analysis of bullets obtained from rebels revealed that the Iranian government had supplied them.[9]

On 18 February 2011, Oumar Bocoum, a soldier, used gasoline to set himself on fire outside the presidential palace in Dakar, following a pattern of protest used throughout the Middle East.[10][11]

In June, after violent protests, Wade dropped plans for two constitutional changes: lowering the percentage of votes required for a first-round victory from 50% to 25% and creating the position of vice-president, also to be elected. Critics feared that Wade would use this to ensure his re-election against a split opposition, and to make his son vice-president.[12] In response to a protest planned for 23 July, a ban on protesting in Dakar was laid down on 21 July 2011; the protesters in response moved the planned protest outside the city.[13]

Constitutional Court term limit ruling


On 27 January 2012, the Constitutional Court of Senegal ruled that Wade was allowed to run for a third term – according to the ruling, his first term did not count under the new constitution.[14]

Protests erupted the following day. Buildings burned across the capital Dakar. Police fired tear gas at youth protesters who questioned the ruling. Wade made a television appearance in which he called the protests "displays of petulance" and promised an "open" electoral campaign with "no restrictions on freedom." Protesters said that they would turn the Place de l'Obelisque in central Dakar into the country's version of Tahrir Square, the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian revolution which led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.[14]

Head of the Party of Independence and Labour and member of the M23 opposition activist group Amath Dansokho told reporters, "Abdoulaye Wade has declared war on the people". Truckloads of police in full riot gear and armed with tear gas grenade launchers and truncheons surrounded the presidential palace used by Wade. Leading human rights activist Alioune Tine was detained.[15]

The protests continued into February. Riot police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets in Dakar on 19 February 2012, one week before the election.[16]

The protests finally ended when Sall defeated Wade in the runoff election.



In addition to the fourteen eventual candidates, Bruno d'Erneville, President of Programme Action Citoyenne Totale, musician Youssou N'Dour,[17] Abdourahmane Sarr and Kéba Keinde intended to run in the election as independents. In January 2012, Bruno d'Erneville formed an alliance with Ibrahima Fall and withdrew.[18] The other three intended candidates were barred from running in the election over insufficiency of legitimate signatures to endorse their campaigns.[14][19]

Candidate[19] Party 2007 result
  Ousmane Tanor Dieng Socialist Party of Senegal Ousmane Tanor Dieng (PS)
  Moustapha Niasse United to Boost Senegal
Alliance of the Forces of Progress
Moustapha Niasse (AFP)
  Macky Sall Alliance for the Republic – Yakaar supported Abdoulaye Wade
  Idrissa Seck Rewmi Idrissa Seck (Rewmi)
  Abdoulaye Wade Senegalese Democratic Party Abdoulaye Wade (PDS)
Mor Dieng fr:YAAKAAR, le Parti de l'Espoir
  Cheikh Tidiane Gadio Citizen Political Movement supported Abdoulaye Wade
  Cheikh Bamba Dièye Front for Socialism and Democracy/Benno Jubël fr:Cheikh Bamba Dièye (FSD/BJ)
Doudou Ndoye Union for the Republic Doudou Ndoye (UPR)
  Djibril Ngom Independent
  Ibrahima Fall Independent
Diouma Dieng Diakhaté fr:Parti Initiative démocratique jogal
Oumar Khassimou Dia fr:Parti humaniste Naxx Jarinu
  Amsatou Sow Sidibé fr:CAR Lennen



For the second round Sall called on all other losing candidates and N'Dour to support him on the promise of returning to five-year terms from the previous seven-year term that Wade controversially restored; he also said he would ensure that no leader could hold more than two terms.[20]



Following a review of the Constitutional Council's official result for the first round, Wade had 34.8% of the votes with Sall forcing a runoff after getting 26.5% of the votes; Moustapha Niasse was in third place with 13.2%, Ousmane Tanor Dieng was in fourth place with 11.3%, and Idrissa Seck followed with 7.86%.[20][21]

A run-off was held on 25 March between Wade and Sall[20] with Sall winning the presidency.[22] Notably, Wade lost by a big margin in his own constituency of Point-E. The election commission warned both candidates not to prematurely declare victory. Voting occurred without undue incidents.[23]

CandidatePartyFirst roundSecond round
Abdoulaye WadeSenegalese Democratic Party942,32734.81992,55634.20
Macky SallAlliance for the Republic719,36726.581,909,24465.80
Moustapha NiasseAlliance of the Forces of Progress357,33013.20
Ousmane Tanor DiengSocialist Party305,92411.30
Idrissa SeckRewmi212,8537.86
Cheikh Bamba DièyeFront for Socialism and Democracy/Benno Jubël52,1961.93
Ibrahima FallIndependent48,9721.81
Cheikh Tidiane GadioCitizen Political Movement26,6550.98
Mor DiengParty of Hope11,4020.42
Djibril Ngom [fr]Independent10,2070.38
Oumar Khassimou Dia [fr]Humanist Party Ñaxx Jariñu6,4690.24
Amsatou Sow SidibéParty for Democracy and Citizenship5,1670.19
Doudou NdoyeUnion for the Republic [fr]4,5660.17
Diouma Dieng Diakhaté [fr]Jogal Democratic Initiative Party3,3540.12
Valid votes2,706,78998.962,901,80099.52
Invalid/blank votes28,3461.0414,0930.48
Total votes2,735,135100.002,915,893100.00
Registered voters/turnout5,302,34951.585,301,64855.00
Source: African Elections Database



After the second round, Wade announced the preliminary result and congratulated Sall. "My dear compatriots, at the end of the second round of the vote...the current results indicate that Macky Sall has won." His spokesman Amadou Sall said: "It is the whole country that has just won ... This is a big moment for democracy and President Abdoulaye Wade has respected the voice of the people." Thousands of Sall's supporters then celebrated on the streets of Dakar and outside the winning party's headquarters.[24] The Senegalese Press Agency said that Wade called Sall at 21:30 to congratulate him. Sall said he would be a president for all the Senegalese people and the election marked a "new era."[25] Wade's presidential spokesman Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye issued a statement that read: "On this day...at 9:27 p.m., President Abdoulaye Wade...wish[ed Sall] good luck in his mission at the head of Senegal in the hopes that he will render the Senegalese happy. In this way, Senegal, through a transparent election, has once again proven that she remains a great democracy – a great country."[26]

International reactions included:

  • The African Union said Wade's concession was a show of "maturity." The Commission's chairman Jean Ping said the peaceful conduct of the election "proved that Africa, despite its challenges, continues to register significant progress towards democracy and transparent elections."
  •   European Union – A spokesman for Catherine Ashton said the election was "a great victory for democracy in Senegal and in Africa. Senegal is a great example for Africa."[25]
  •   United Nations – The UN praised and welcomed Wade's concession speech.[26]
  •   France – President Nicolas Sarkozy said the election was "good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular. Senegal is a major African country and a model of democracy."[25]
  •   United States – The White House also praised and welcomed Wade's concession speech.[26]

Government formation


After being sworn in on 2 April, Sall appointed Abdoul Mbaye as prime minister. Sall said that as "we aren't able to do everything. I haven't promised to do everything," his focus would be on poverty alleviation and development. This was boosted by the union of university professors suspending a strike to allow the new government to review its demands.[27]


  1. ^ "Candidature a La Presidentielle de 2012 du Senegal: Ibrahima Fall déroule sa feuille de route" Archived 27 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Denise Zarour Medang, Sud Quotidien 10 June 2011.
  2. ^ "IFES Election Guide – Country Profile: Senegal".
  3. ^ "Senegal presidential run-off set for March 25". AFP. 5 March 2012.
  4. ^ "afrol News - Senegal approves presidential term extension". www.afrol.com. afrol News. 30 July 2008. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  5. ^ Drew Hinshaw. "Senegal Sets Next Presidential Election for Feb. 26, 2012". Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 23 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Senegal's President Says He'll Run in 2012". Voice of America. 17 November 2009.
  7. ^ Diadie Ba. "Senegalese leader in row over 2012 re-election bid". Reuters, 24 August 2010.
  8. ^ Senegalese army sweeps Casamance after fight with separatists rfi
  9. ^ Senegal Forensic Study Shows Iranian Weapons Used in Casamance Bloomberg
  10. ^ Man dies after setting himself on fire in Senegal The Associated Press
  11. ^ Benin, Senegal, Mauritania Impacted by Protest Movements Yahoo!
  12. ^ "Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade drops poll plans after riots", BBC News, 23 June 2011.
  13. ^ "BBC News – Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade bans demonstrations". BBC. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  14. ^ a b c "Senegal clashes erupt as court clears Wade poll bid". BBC News. 28 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Senegal opposition urges more "resistance" after riots". Reuters. 28 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Senegal protesters clash with police a week before vote". africasia. 19 February 2012.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Youssou N'Dour announces Senegal presidential bid". BBC News. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  18. ^ "Ibrahima Fall et Bruno d'Erneville mettent en place 'une alliance stratégique'". Agence de Presse Sénégalaise. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b "" L'intégralité de l'arrêt du Conseil constitutionnel du 27 janvier 2012 " : " Publication de la liste des candidats à l'élection du président de la République du 26 février 2012 ", " Rewmi "". Rewmi.com. Archived from the original on 30 January 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "Senegal presidential poll results confirm run-off". BBC News. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade accepts election run-off". BBC News. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  22. ^ Nossiter, Adam (25 March 2012). "President Concedes Race in Senegal". The New York Times.
  23. ^ AFP 26 March 2012. "Senegal elects new president". Montrealgazette.com. Retrieved 28 March 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Senegal opposition celebrates election win – Africa". Al Jazeera English. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  25. ^ a b c "Macky Sall Senegal election win 'example for Africa'". World.myjoyonline.com. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  26. ^ a b c Rukmini Callimachi. "Analysis: In Senegal, a weighty phone call". Associated Press.[dead link]
  27. ^ "Technocrat to be Senegal's new prime minister - Africa". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 13 August 2012.