Senegal: Police and Protesters Clash After Election Postponed

Senegal is in a political crisis following President Macky Sall‘s abrupt decision to postpone the presidential elections scheduled for February 25. This has protests, clashes between police and opposition supporters in the West African nation.

Senegal: Police and Protesters Clash After Election Postponed

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The crisis began with the Constitutional Court’s decision to exclude opposition figures from the presidential race, including Karim Wade, the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, and Ousmane Sonko, a popular anti-establishment candidate.

This exclusion has made protests and calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the impartiality of the judges on the Constitutional Court.

President Sall, facing internal party divisions and a defeat at the polls, declared the postponement, citing a dispute between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court over the rejection of candidates.

The decision has been labeled a constitutional coup by opposition leaders, who argue that Sall lacks the authority to delay the elections.

The announcement of the election postponement triggered protests in the capital, Dakar, with opposition supporters taking to the streets to defend democracy.

The protests escalated into clashes with the police, who made arrests and used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Former Prime Minister Aminata Touré and presidential candidate Anta Babacar Ngom were among those arrested.

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As protests continued, the government took measures to control the narrative by cutting off the signal of the private Walf television channel, which was broadcasting the protests live.

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the move, addressing the importance of allowing journalists to work without hindrance.

The African Union, through Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, urged the country to resolve the political dispute through dialogue and consultation.

The United States, the European Union, and France expressed concern over the postponement and called for a rescheduling of the elections.

Senegal has long been regarded as a stronghold of democracy in West Africa, having never experienced a coup since gaining independence in 1960.

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However, the current political turmoil is putting this reputation to the test. The crisis has roots in the disqualification of opposition figures, leading to clashes and tensions between the judiciary and the parliament.

President Sall’s decision to repeal the decree setting the electoral process in motion and postpone the elections has constitutional questions. Opposition leaders argue that Sall lacks the constitutional authority to delay the vote unilaterally.

Senegal’s constitution empowers the Constitutional Council, the highest election authority, to reschedule elections under specific circumstances, including the death, permanent incapacity, or withdrawal of candidates. Opposition leaders have called on citizens to defend democracy.

Former Prime Minister Thierno Alassane Sall, who denounced the decision as high treason towards the Republic, announced the launch of his electoral campaign, addressing the defense of the Constitution. Other opposition figures, including former mayor Khalifa Sall and candidate Déthié Fall.

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