The police used teargas to disperse individuals attempting to assemble outside of Senegal’s national assembly on Monday to demonstrate against the president’s sudden delay of elections during the weekend.
During a protest where slogans were chanted, the parliament initiated discussions on a bill that would postpone the 25 February election to 25 August and prolong President Macky Sall’s term until his successor takes office.
Sall’s unexpected statement on Saturday has put the west African nation in unfamiliar territory regarding its constitution, which could damage its image as a symbol of democratic stability in an area plagued by coups.
Mohammad Mbengue, one of the protesters, stated that there is an attempt to prolong the president’s term, which is considered unlawful and prohibited.
On Monday, approximately 100 individuals congregated outside of parliament following clashes on Sunday, chanting “Macky Sall is a tyrant.” Law enforcement pursued them into adjacent streets and detained them.
Mobile internet access was temporarily limited by authorities on Sunday evening due to the presence of hateful messages on social media and potential threats to public safety. As a result, multiple schools dismissed students earlier than usual.
On Sunday, the private television network Walf reported that it was removed from broadcasting and its license was canceled.
According to Dame, a protester who only provided his first name, Senegal’s reputation as a nation with a robust democracy is no longer accurate. He expressed concern that President Sall would refuse to relinquish power and demanded a fair election.
The African Union, along with regional organizations and western governments, urged for a prompt determination of a new election date on Monday.
Sall stated that the election had been postponed due to a disagreement regarding the list of candidates and accusations of corruption within the governing body responsible for it.
The PDS, an opposition party in Senegal, had their candidate disqualified due to dual citizenship issues. They are in favor of a delay and presented a bill in parliament before Sall’s announcement.
On the other hand, some responded with anger. The F24 platform, which consists of numerous civil society organizations that have organized previous protests, as well as the opposition presidential candidate Khalifa Sall, a former mayor of Dakar, referred to it as an “institutional coup”.
Certain contenders stated that they would continue with their election campaigns, which were supposed to start over the weekend. Two of these candidates, Khalifa Sall and Aly Ngouille, declared that they would contest the decision to delay the campaigns in court.
During the protests in Dakar on Sunday, police in riot gear dispersed the crowd by using tear gas and arresting multiple demonstrators. According to his team, one protester was injured and had to be hospitalized.
The recent statement from the president and the resulting backlash have sparked concerns about the possibility of renewed violent demonstrations. These protests have occurred over the last three years due to fears that Macky Sall would seek a third term and accusations of the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko being marginalized politically.
According to Oxford Economics, the upcoming months will be marked by uncertainty and they do not believe that the police will be successful in quelling all public outrage.
In order for the postponement bill to be approved, it must receive support from at least three-fifths of the national assembly.
According to a Barclays analysis, a postponement could occur if the ruling party (holding 49% of seats) and the opposition coalition, which includes the PDS, both vote in favor. The analysis suggests that this delay could potentially lead to further postponements and give the president more opportunities to take action.