As coups d’État become increasingly common across Africa, Senegal continues to stand as an exception. This West African nation has never experienced a coup since gaining independence in 1960. According to Alioune Tine, a member of the Afrikajom think tank, this exceptional record can be attributed largely to the maturity of its military.
“There is a democratic culture, and there is also a strong commitment to defending this democratic culture. At the same time, we have a well-trained army. If you know the Senegalese army, I have worked with senior officers in Senegal, and frankly, it’s an army of intellectuals. It’s an army that, in my opinion, understands the boundaries and is aware of them.”
The crises of 1968 and the violent riots in 2021 and 2023 seem to confirm this observation. The Senegalese army has consistently upheld its principles. However, to preserve this tradition, analysts urge politicians, especially those in power, to remain vigilant.
“In Senegal, authorities need to be extremely cautious in managing political affairs in our country. Today, it is essential that democratic principles, the rule of law, political freedom, and press freedom are vigorously preserved because the mishandling of these elements can potentially inspire certain institutions like the army and gendarmerie. This has occurred in many African countries,” said Momar, Dieng.’
At a time when coups are occurring in neighboring countries, Senegalese people are hoping that the specter of coups remains distant from their minds, despite the current tensions in the country. When questioned on the matter, political figures, such as this former member of the Pastef party, are aware of the danger.
“A coup d’état has never been a solution in a normal system. In almost all countries where you see these coups, it’s because the system is not functioning properly. That’s why I appeal to leaders and political actors to ensure that Senegal regains its former glory,” explained Momath Talla Ndao, Ex-Pastef party member.
This image is being severely tarnished by the deteriorating political climate as the country heads towards a crucial presidential election on February 25th.