Senegal faces unrest following postponement of presidential elections

Senegal is grappling with heightened tensions and civil unrest in the wake of president Macky Sall's decision to indefinitely postpone the presidential elections scheduled for February 25. The announcement has sparked widespread protests, particularly in the capital, Dakar, where demonstrators clashed with security forces.

The president's proposal to delay the elections and initiate a "national dialogue" as a means to restore confidence in the electoral process has been met with skepticism. Critics argue that Sall might be leveraging the crisis to buy time, fueled by concerns that his chosen candidate, current prime minister Amadou Ba, may face defeat in the elections. This suspicion has led to accusations of a "constitutional coup" by the opposition.

Tear gas

The situation escalated on Sunday in Dakar, where protesters, responding to calls from various politicians, gathered at a central roundabout. Law enforcement deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds, leading to clashes where stones were thrown by protesters. The unrest continued on Monday, marked by disruptions in mobile internet access and security forces using tear gas to disband an opposition rally at parliament.

Despite being a historically stable nation in the region, Senegal has experienced intermittent periods of deadly unrest since 2021. President Sall, who has been in power since 2012, announced in July 2023 that he would not seek a new mandate. The postponement of the elections has now thrown the country into a state of uncertainty, prompting calls for a peaceful resolution to the crisis and transparent electoral proceedings.

"Understanding and dialogue"

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat called on Senegalese leaders to resolve their "political disagreement with consultation, understanding and dialogue". In a statement on X, he expressed concern over the country's postponed elections. Mahamat calls on the authorities to organise elections "in transparency, peace and national harmony" as soon as possible.



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