An Oasis of Stability in a Sea of Turbulence: Has Senegal anything but Stability to look Forward to?
Senegal, a country of 13.5 million people, is considered one of Africa’s strongest democracies. It has successfully transitioned from one civilian rule to the other since 1960 when it gained independence from France and its political system has transformed into a multi-party democracy. All these despite tremendous social, political, and economic upheaval in many African states, especially bordering states like Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. Though the regional environment is extremely volatile, including threats posed by the growing radical Islamism in the Sahel-Saharan region, Senegal also faces enormous domestic challenges that make its socio-political stability fragile. In fact, Senegal is the site of the longest-running low-level separatist insurgency in Africa, a conflict that has defied many attempts to form terms for truce or outright settlement. It is because of this external and internal context that this report considers Senegal’s stability a material contradiction. Senegal’s stability, though tenuous, is likely to continue to hold due to a confluence of factors favorable to stability, including: its integrative national constitution; its legacy of democratic governance; the existence and dominance of non-radical Sufi brotherhoods; high-levels of interaction between civil authorities (and populations) and Senegal’s military; and huge remittances from Senegal’s diaspora communities. Read the full report.