Senegal to Vote on Referendum to Cut Presidential Term

  • Presidential term could be reduced to 5 years from 7
  • Macky Sall says he will complete current 7-year term

Senegal will hold a referendum on constitutional changes on Sunday, including a proposal to reduce the length of the president’s term in office.

Voters will be asked whether they want to reduce the time a president serves to five years from seven. Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. local time.

Macky Sall

Photographer: Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

The change has the support of President Macky Sall, who was elected in 2012 on a promise to cut the term after former his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade extended the period to seven years. ConocoPhillips Inc. and Cairns Energy Plc recently discovered oil off Senegal’s coastline.

The proposal puts Senegal on a path to restraining executive power as presidents from Rwanda to Burundi seek to run for a third time. Burundi has been wracked by violence ever since President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term last year and Rwanda’s constitution was changed to allow Paul Kagame a third time in 2017.

Civil society groups instrumental in getting Sall elected in 2012 said they feel betrayed by him after he said he will finish the current seven-year term. They have pledged to vote ’no’ to the constitutional changes.

The International Monetary Fund has said the economy will grow 6.5% this year. Senegal’s economy is dominated by fishing, cement manufacturing and production of groundnuts.

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