The decision to postpone the presidential election, which was originally scheduled for February 25, has sparked growing anger within the country and raised concerns abroad. Despite the mounting protests, the national assembly deputies voted on Monday to reschedule the election for December.
President Sall has justified the election postponement by citing a dispute between parliament and the Constitutional Council over the eligibility of certain candidates. He claimed to seek a process of ‘appeasement and reconciliation.’ However, both the United States and the European Union have criticised the decision to delay the election.
Senegal’s parliament finally endorsed the postponement on Monday, following a forceful intervention by security forces who stormed the chamber and removed opposition deputies. Parliament also voted to extend Sall’s term in office until his successor assumes power, which is unlikely to happen before early 2025. His second term was originally set to conclude on April 2.
Protests erupted across the country on Friday, with law enforcement resorting to the use of tear gas to disperse crowds and closing off main roads, rail lines, and major markets. Reporters Without Borders report that at least five journalists were targeted by the police in Dakar. Campaigners from the Aar Sunu Election group (Protect our Election) have called for fresh protests on Tuesday.
A 19-year-old lost his life following clashes in Ziguinchor, marking the third fatality amidst unrest. According to hospital source of AFP and a local politician on Sunday, the teenager succumbed to injuries sustained after being struck by a projectile to the head. The incident occurred on Saturday evening, and despite efforts in intensive care, the individual did not survive. Abdou Sane, the coordinator of the opposition party Pastef in Ziguinchor, confirmed the death, citing that the victim was hit by a bullet in the head amidst the protests, which left several others seriously injured.
Market vendor Modou Gueye, aged 23, tragically died on Saturday after being shot during clashes in the capital city of Dakar on Friday, according to his relatives who spoke to AFP. Gueye’s brother, Dame Gueye, explained, “Tear gas grenades were fired and then we went to the train station at Colobane to go home. It was there that a gendarme shot him in the stomach with a live round.” His brother-in-law, Mbagnick Ndiaye, confirmed that he succumbed to his injuries on Saturday morning.
A 22-year-old second-year geography student named Alpha Yoro Tounkara lost his life in the northern town of Saint-Louis under circumstances that have yet to be clarified. Hundreds his classmates held an all-night vigil in his memory. Videos circulating on social media indicate that other individuals were also injured. The city’s prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the incident. The interior ministry, however, denies that security forces were present on the university campus.
This crisis has raised concerns about Senegal’s reputation for democratic stability in a region plagued by military coups. In Paris and Berlin, groups of protesters, predominantly Senegalese, gathered on Saturday to demonstrate against President Sall, denouncing him as a ‘dictator’ in the placards.