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July 3, 2023

Lydia, Baccino, Jayde Dorland, Dan Flanagan, Gabriel Helupka, Megan Khalife

Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor

Map of Senegal[1]

Event: On Sunday, opposition leader Ousmane Sonko urged the Senegalese population to mobilize in large numbers over the next few days.[2] This call comes ahead of President Macky Sall’s announcement Monday night that he will not seek election for a third term in the 2024 Presidential election.[3] After being elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, Sall oversaw a constitutional revision in 2016, stating that a president could only serve two consecutive terms. Sall’s supporters argue that this revision effectively resets the term limits, making him eligible to run for another term in the 2024 election. Sonko, who was sentenced in June to two years in prison for allegedly “corrupting youth,” argued that the Sall administration is attempting to prevent him from running for president and encouraged the Senegalese to unite and oppose the “criminal regime.”[4] Sonko’s conviction resulted in significant unrest, as violent protests left at least 16 people dead, many injured, and 500 arrested. Sonko further demanded the release of political prisoners and an end to his “administrative detention” as he has been confined to his home since May.[5]

Significance: Sanko’s call for mobilization will very likely result in renewed unrest and clashes, likely demonstrating his ability to influence many supporters. Sall's announcement is likely to deter efforts to portray his regime as criminal, and show his commitment to honoring the constitutional reforms concerning presidential terms. Sanko’s leadership almost certainly challenges the current administration’s narrative surrounding the revised Constitution, very likely prompting the Senegalese to question the legitimacy of Sall’s presidency and his party. Sall's proclamation is very unlikely to change Sanko's call for protests, as Sanko is likely to view the declaration as an attempt from Sall to avoid accountability for oppressing political opposition. President Sall will very likely continue targeting political opponents to maintain dominance and attempt to bar them from office. The Senegalese government will likely bring new charges against Sonko, likely transferring him from his home to a secure facility to silence the primary opposition figure. The Senegalese government will very likely block independent media sources from covering upcoming protests, almost certainly to discourage political debate among citizens. The government will very likely reinstate internet shutdowns to quell opposition favorability, very likely creating disruptions for Senegalese services and organizations. Internet and media shutdowns will very likely encourage opposition forces to increase protests, likely leading the government to deploy additional security personnel and implement curfews. Increased security personnel presence will likely provoke protestors, with a roughly even chance of escalating tensions and violent clashes with protestors.


  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends opposition protestors maintain awareness if security forces use excessive force to break up protests.

  • CTG recommends citizens monitor reliable news outlets and government announcements to stay informed of travel disruptions, road blockages, curfews, and other restrictions imposed. CTG recommends individuals traveling to Senegal stay vigilant and limit mobility in protest-prone areas. CTG also recommends travelers stay in contact with the embassies if they think they are in danger.

  • CTG recommends that citizens leave demonstration areas and seek shelter if clashes occur.

  • CTG recommends Western intelligence agencies monitor the events in Senegal and its potential to destabilize the Sahel region further and allow terror organizations to exploit the events.

  • CTG recommends that Senegalese security authorities increase police patrols across Senegal to monitor for and intervene in potential violent breakouts.

  • CTG recommends international powers, like the US and UN, call for a fair trial for Sonko and for the Senegalese government to clarify and present evidence of the charges brought against him.

  • CTG recommends that international human rights observers, such as the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), designate independent third-party investigators to assess the legitimacy of the charges against Sonko. We further recommend that this investigation publish a report to the public evaluating the charges' legality, compliance with international human rights laws, and providing recommendations for the Senegalese government to consider upon the report's release.

  • CTG recommends protestors document evidence of human rights abuses they experience or witness to hold actors accountable for potential violations.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email at


[1] Senegal by Google Maps

[2] Sonko urges Senegalese to 'come out en masse' ahead of president's speech, France 24, July 2023,

[3] Senegal President Macky Sall Says Won't Seek Re-election, Barron’s, July 2023,

[4] Sonko urges Senegalese to 'come out en masse' ahead of president's speech, France 24, July 2023,

[5] Ibid

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