Tense and edgy merely weeks ago, the mood has since changed in Senegal, as the country stands on the precipice of another democratic achievement. The capital, Dakar, taut from the pre-election violence that resulted in at least six deaths in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces, now breathes a little easier in anticipation of a peaceful and successful runoff on Sunday. But by no means is the result of the presidential runoff here a cakewalk; pockets of tension continue in districts of Dakar, as a society gears itself for the possibility of a seismic power shift in the country’s body politic. The metamorphosis, however, from “critical” to “stable” has so far disproved the animated conjecture of overzealous journalists who speculated that the violence would intensify and spill into other restive countries in the regional neighbourhood. Senegal had the makings of a success story in a region often characterised by volatility, disappointment and paranoia. The talk in Senegal this week has been cautiously optimistic; peace is considered the default, the earlier violence a mere aberration from the norm. And then came Mali.
On Tuesday, half a million Malians living in Senegal woke up to news that, some 1,400km away, their country’s army had overthrown Amadou Toumani Toure, the Malian president, seized the radio and television networks and were engaged in an old-school coup in the capital, Bamako; guns, fatigues and hand written notes read out to a nation.
Malians in Dakar, tens of thousands of them, many who have lived in this city for the past fifty years, and known for selling boiled meat and textiles in markets, and mocked by Senegalese for “wearing dirty trousers”, are distraught at the latest events in their home country. They say that the coup has the potential to set the country’s democratic ambitions back by two decades. But they also say the story is far more complex than media junkies are making out.
Full Article: Along came the coup in Mali – Features – Al Jazeera English.