Catholic Laity in Senegal Urge Politicians to “act in accordance with rules of democracy”

President of the National Laity Council (CNL) in Senegal, Philippe Abraham Birane Tine. Credit: Philippe Abraham Birane Tine

Catholic Laity in Senegal are, through the leadership of the country’s National Laity Council (CNL), calling upon politicians in the West African nation, to adhere to “the rules of democracy” ahead of elections for members of parliament.

The electorate in Senegal constituting some 7 million eligible voters are set to take part in the country’s legislators on Sunday, July 31, a poll that Africanews and AFP have described as “a test before the presidential election of February 2024”. 

President Macky Sall’s ruling party is expected to face a tough contest from two Senegalese opposition coalitions that joined forces in May in preparation for the July 31 legislative elections. 

In their Saturday, July 30 statement shared with ACI Africa, CNL officials highlight the challenging situation the parliamentary elections are to take place. 

They say, “The legislative elections are taking place in a tense political context, a difficult social climate for households, a delicate security atmosphere, a sub-regional situation marked by worrying political and institutional instability and a world political situation that is not reassuring.”


For a transparent and sincere election whose results will be accepted by all, the leadership of the Catholic Laity in Senegal invites “all actors involved in the electoral competition to act in accordance with the rules of democracy, giving priority to ideas and projects for society.”

They encourage political actors in Senegal “to put the higher interest of the nation first and to avoid all forms of violence and acts that could jeopardize the stability of our country.”

CNL officials further call upon “all stakeholders in the electoral process to have a strong sense of responsibility to ensure strict compliance with the laws and regulations governing the election in the interest of the country.”

The July 31 legislative poll that follows local elections in March, is to renew the 150 seats for members of parliament. While the current Assembly is largely dominated by President Sall's ruling coalition, the March local elections were won by the opposition in several major cities, including Dakar, Ziguinchor in the South, and Thies in the West.

In their July 30 statement signed by CNL President, Philippe Abraham Birane Tine, representatives of the Laity in Senegal highlight the stakes of the July 31 poll, which they describe as a “great event”.

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“Since the official launch of the campaign, Senegalese men and women have been mobilizing all over the country and throughout the world for this great event,” CNL officials say, and add, “This is a major moment in the life of a democracy, an important turning point for a nation which must allow choosing of the men and women who will sit in the legislature, one of the key institutions of the country.”

They say that “Senegal's long and rich democratic tradition has enabled us to build not only undeniable political and social stability, but also an exemplary character and a reputation recognized throughout the world.”

“This heritage bequeathed by our predecessors has given us an exemplary way of living together, a harmonious combination of our diversities and a political and institutional genius that are the pride of Senegal and its citizens,” CNL officials say in their July 30 statement shared with ACI Africa.

The people of God in Senegal, CNL leadership says in reference to the country’s heritage, “have a pressing obligation to work to preserve this legacy, to strengthen it and to pass it on to future generations in the best possible way.”

“CNL, faithful to its mission of promoting fundamental human values, notably human dignity, freedom, justice and peace, regrets and condemns the acts of violence observed during certain political rallies, wherever they may come from,” the representatives of the Catholic Laity in Senegal add.


They make reference to the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops in Senegal issued in 1994, particularly inviting the competing political coalitions to cooperate in realizing “a Senegal of justice and peace”.

“Take cognizance of the contribution of the Church contained in the Acts of the forum commemorating the 25th anniversary of the pastoral letter of the Bishops of Senegal published on 20 November 1994 on the theme: Building together a Senegal of justice and peace,” CNL officials say.

They urge the government to “take all necessary measures to ensure the security of all citizens and the normal conduct of the election so that Senegal is the winner of this competition.” 

In June, Catholic Bishops in Senegal urged “politicians and other stakeholders” in the West African nation to prioritize “dialogue in truth” for a peaceful legislative elections of July 31.

“As the legislative elections approach, we invite all the politicians and other stakeholders to prioritize dialogue in truth for a lasting peace and an integral human development,” Catholic Bishops in Senegal said in their June 10 message.

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They added, “We must not give in to violence and provocation during the electoral process.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.