Senegal’s President Macky Sall has ruled out seeking re-election in 2024, ending widespread speculation that he would run for a third term.
“The 2019 term was my second and last term,” he said in a televised address.
Rumours he would try to extend his grip on power have fuelled unrest several times since 2021, with dozens killed.
The opposition had called for fresh protests if Mr Sall decided to run again – which many legal experts say would have violated the constitution.
In his address late on Monday, Mr Sall, 61, said: “There has been much speculation and commentary on my eventual candidature on this election.
“My decision, carefully considered… is not to run as a candidate in the upcoming election.
“Senegal is more than me, and is full of capable leaders for the country’s development,” he added.
Recently there had been anger in Senegal over the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison for the crime of “corrupting youth”.
The 48-year-old was found guilty of acting immorally towards an individual younger than 21, but cleared of rape charges.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of several cities and at least 16 people were killed.
Sonko denies any wrongdoing, and his supporters say the trial was a political ploy to disqualify him from entering the presidential race.
Mr Sall has been in office since 2012.
In 2016, he changed the constitution to set a two-term presidential limit. But his supporters argued he could still run for a third term as his first was under the previous constitution.
Speculation that he would try to cling on to power has dented Senegal’s reputation as a relatively stable democratic nation in the restive West African region.