Senegaldecides - Outgoing President Sall Bemoans High Cost of Elections

President Macky Sall

President Macky Sall of Senegal has bemoaned the high cost of organising elections in Africa.

The president, whose tenure ends on 2 April when the new president-elect, Bassirou Faye, takes over, said while democracy remains the best form of government, the process of choosing leaders is quite ruinous to the economy of African nations.

Mr Sall spoke when the head of the ECOWAS observer group to witness Sunday's presidential election, Ibrahim Gambari, paid him a courtesy visit on Monday.

He said his country spent over 14 billion CFA ($23 million) to organise the election.

The president who appeared content with the way the elections went even though the candidate of his party, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, lost, said he was happy to have overseen a peaceful and successful election.

President Sall, however, lamented what he called the overwhelming and unfair powers wielded by certain institutions in Senegal. Although he did not mention any specific group, it was easy to see that he was referring to the constitutional court which had rejected his call for the postponement of the elections.

The judges had also vetoed the demands of leading Islamic clerics in the country to postpone voting until after Ramadan.

President Sall noted that the sort of power wielded by some of these institutions was contrary to the Constitution of Senegal which said no one must have more powers than the duly elected representatives of the people, either in the executive branch or the legislature.

The ECOWAS head of mission agreed with the Senegalese president that the cost of the election was indeed high. He recalled that when he supervised an election in Congo, it cost the government over 500 million dollars to conduct the polls.

He said it is important to look into the prohibitive cost of elections.

The former undersecretary of the United Nations praised the people of Senegal for upholding the tenets of democracy and organising a peaceful election.

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