By Ramatoulie Jawo
Open Society Africa, in collaboration with the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, on Thursday hosted an event focusing on Senegal and Sudan’s Political situations.
This event interrogates the country situations of the two AU member states through the lens of the nationals of the respective countries.
The event seeks to elicit solidarity with the citizens of the countries being discussed, and proffer policy options on the uniquely different challenges.
Senegal is trapped in a term elongation project for political dominance by a head of state whose term is running out and deploying methods of suppression of popular participation and good governance.
Speaking at the event, Hannah Forster, Executive Director of the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, said all hands and actions need to join together to make sure that unconstitutional coups do not take place in Africa anymore.
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“We all need to have our hands together, and our actions together to make sure that unconstitutional coups do not take place anymore, anywhere in Africa. It is not something that we need to negotiate. It is something that we need to ensure that it happens, Many States have been paying lip service to say, ‘there is no third term.’ But we are seeing that there have been a lot of countries that say ‘No to unconstitutional coups.’ But they have come up with their own version of stories to make sure they stay in power. I believe we need to stay United as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and to make sure our voices are heard,” she said.
The Human Rights Advocate further stated that CSOs should say a big no to violence. Adding that they have seen a lot of violence in Sudan and Senegal.
“We need to say no to violence, and we therefore look forward to the African Commission taking Action in collaboration with the African Union to make sure that these two pressing countries’ issues are addressed,” she stated.
Mr. George Kegoro, Director of Policy and Engagement, at Open Society Africa, said the issues that are happening in Senegal, if not addressed, could become a major problem.
“We are hoping that timely and decisively engagement is going to continue to ensure that Senegal sticks to the expectations of its population in terms of democratic practice, and make sure the laws make the transition in that country,” Mr. Kegoro expressed.
The delegates from Senegal highlighted some of the problems their country is currently facing and also the roles their citizens are playing to bring their officials to account.
The Senegalese delegates also spoke about how their current government is using the Courts to violate the rights of its citizens.
On the other hand, Sudan is spiraling into total chaos and conflict that has witnessed mass deaths and an exodus of refugees.
The Human Rights advocate stressed that despite these developments, both countries’ actions (Senegal and Sudan) have a very real possibility of plunging their respective neighbourhoods into total disarray and regional instability.
The event brought together human rights defenders (HRDs) attending the 75th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) as well as diplomatic and consular corps based in The Gambia, government officials and media.
The meeting highlights the challenges that the African continent faces given that many AU member states had either revised their constitutions expunging term limits or engaged in constitutional tampering, which guarantees term elongation.
The issue of coups making a comeback, and attendant conflicts continue to infringe on the rights of African citizens and threaten the lives and livelihoods of many particularly women and children.