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Senegal: Protesters clash again with security forces

February 10, 2024

President Macky Sall's decision to delay the national election from February to December, effectively extending his time in power, sparked widespread protests across Senegal throughout the week.

A fire blazes in the middle of the road as people run away
Protesters have taken to the streets of Senegal for days against the president's decision to postopone electionsImage: Stefan Kleinowitz/AP Photo/picture alliance

Senegalese security forces clashed with protesters on Friday as frustration continued over the postponement of the presidential election.

Police in riot gear fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets in an attempt to stop the protesters from reaching Place de la Nation in Dakar.

According to the AFP news agency, a student protesting the delayed election died during the clashes, which saw demonstrators throw stones at the police and set fire to tires.

The  presidential election scheduled for February 25 was delayed by President Macky Sall until December.

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'We are ready to give our lives'

Protesters were also seen holding signs with slogans such as "Macky Sall is a dictator." 

"We are ready to give our lives so that the people can be freed, so that Senegal can rid itself of Macky Sall," one protester told Reuters news agency.

Thierno Alassane Sall, one of the 20 candidates who had been due to vie for the presidency, added to AFP: "The situation is deplorable. We came to pray and we got gassed. It's intolerable. Senegalese must show their anger, and not just on social media."

A man of the left wearing a mask runs as another man hides beside a building
The internet was cut off on Monday as parliament voted on delaying the presidential electionImage: Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS

Unrest erupted after unexpected election delay

Sall announced the postponement of the election on February 3 because of an alleged dispute between parliament and the Constitutional Council over potential candidates who were not allowed to participate in the vote.

Having claimed in July 2023 that he would not stand for another term as Senegal's president, the decision to delay the election was viewed as a "constitutional coup" Sall used to keep himself in power.

Despite drawing criticism from the United States and European Union, the parliament backed the president’s call on Monday but only after security forces stormed the chamber and removed some opposition deputies, who were unable to cast their votes. 

Access to mobile data networks had been blocked since early on Monday, a move that also provoked protests.

km/sms (AFP, Reuters)