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Keeping Senegal’s Success Story Alive

Notwithstanding Senegal's recent civil unrest and attacks on its institutions, the country has one of the most stable democracies in Africa, and today's leaders have the opportunity to leave a great legacy. But to do so, they must remember that Senegal is greater than any one individual.

DAKAR – In late June, Senegal celebrated the feast of Tabaski, our version of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. But for some, the festivities were overshadowed by mourning for those who lost their lives in an inexcusable outbreak of violence last month. Civil unrest has tested Senegal’s social cohesion and our long tradition – enviable in Africa – of peace and stability. Our fellow citizens’ lives should not be sacrificed on the altar of political interests. We have an obligation to protect the life and dignity of all Senegalese.

My government is now investigating the causes of the violence, particularly the malign forces behind the unrest, which coincided with a torrent of hate speech on social media and cyber-attacks against strategic government websites and vital services, such as water and electricity. Nothing can justify such acts of violence and disruption, not to mention the destruction of public and private property, including universities and schools. The subversive groups behind the violence clearly wanted to plunge our country into darkness and destabilize our democracy.

Senegal was hit hard by the economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the subsequent cost-of-living crisis, which is making life difficult for many households. But I know that Senegal’s hard-working people have the strength to overcome such challenges. Senegal has one of the strongest and most stable democracies in Africa, and I owe a great debt of gratitude to my predecessors for this proud record. We have made massive progress since independence 60 years ago, and we now have the opportunity to leave a great legacy. The decisions we make together will shape the future of Senegal and the lives of our children and theirs.