Senegal has been thrown into a political turmoil after President Macky Sall cancelled the upcoming presidential election scheduled for February 25 to December 15, 2024.
This unexpected decision not only ignited a constitutional crisis but also dealt a significant blow to the democratic landscape in West Africa.
The opposition, including prominent figures like Khalifa Sall and Thierno Alassane Sall, have vehemently criticized the move, labelling it a “constitutional coup” and “high treason,” respectively.
Senegal, traditionally viewed as a beacon of stability and democracy in the region, now faces a critical moment, challenging its history of a peaceful transition of power.
Chaotic Parliament Session
Senegal’s parliament in a chaotic session marked by the forceful removal of opposition lawmakers, voted to postpone the presidential election to December 15.
On Monday, January 5, 2024, parliamentary support for the decision came as 105 out of 165 MPs voted in favour of delaying the election until December. This extension ensures President Sall remains in office until his successor is officially in place.
The initial bill had set the election for August 25, and this further delay triggered widespread anger in the West African country.
During Monday’s parliamentary debate on the bill, security forces deployed tear gas against protesters outside the Dakar parliament.
The demonstrators including opposition politicians and their supporters took to the streets and gathered, burning tires and expressing criticism towards President Sall.
Local media reports indicate that tear gas was used to disperse the crowd.
Angry youth set tires ablaze as one protester told reporters that, “We are only defending ourselves. He (Sall) meddles with the constitution, he meddles with the newspapers, he meddles with the population.
“He does everything he can to put us in a difficult position… We are not fighting for a simple cause; we are fighting for freedom.”
President Sall, having served the maximum two terms, was initially set to step down on April 2.
While Sall has stated he has no intentions to prolong his term, protesters remain skeptical of his assurances.