DAKAR: Senegalese lawmakers on Monday received bodily as they debated an unprecedented transfer to delay this month’s presidential election, which additionally sparked clashes outdoors parliament and prompted worldwide concern.
The temper within the parliament chamber was near boiling level by early afternoon, with some deputies shoving and pushing each other, resulting in a short lived recess.
Outdoors, safety forces earlier used tear gasoline to disperse small teams of opposition protesters, with demonstrators chanting “Macky Sall dictator,” referring to the nation’s president.
The ambiance in Senegal — usually considered as a bastion of stability in coup-hit West Africa — has been tense since Saturday when Sall introduced a delay to the February 25 vote, simply hours earlier than campaigning was formally set to start.
“Let’s not be an meeting of disgrace. Let’s be sure that after we go away right here we will have a look at our youngsters with pleasure and say that we had been the final wall, the final bulwark,” mentioned opposition MP Abass Fall throughout the debate.
Lawmakers are debating a proposal for a delay of six months or as much as a yr, till February 2025, in keeping with the textual content distributed on the assembly.
Adopted a day earlier by a preparatory committee, the textual content is supported by MPs from Sall’s occasion. Nevertheless it wants the help of three-fifths of the 165 deputies to cross.
“President Macky Sall mentioned he would serve two phrases. He has stored his phrase,” mentioned one other MP Moussa Diakhate, chairman of the pro-government regulation committee.
Violence has beforehand damaged out in Senegal over fears Sall would attempt to lengthen his tenure past the top of his second time period, and he has beforehand insisted he wouldn’t.
The vote was anticipated later within the day on Monday.
The sporadic clashes outdoors parliament had been a uncommon sight within the usually calm space of downtown Dakar, the place police and safety forces backed up by heavy automobiles had been mobilized to guard parliament.
Demonstrator Malick Diouf, 37, mentioned he had no most popular candidate and didn’t actually have a voting card, however felt it essential to return and protest.
“The primary factor for me is to say ‘no’ to this political agenda, this coup de pressure to attempt to keep in energy,” he instructed AFP.
Opposition leaders have denounced the proposed delay as a “constitutional coup” and an assault on democracy.
Violent avenue protests rocked the capital Dakar on Sunday, throughout which two opposition candidates, together with former prime minister Aminata Toure, had been arrested and later launched.
The federal government early on Monday suspended cellular Web entry, citing the dissemination of “hateful and subversive messages” on social media.
It was a repeat of a transfer final June, which noticed cellular knowledge restricted amid excessive tensions within the nation.
The measure has turn into a typical response to curb mobilization and communication by way of social networks.
Whatever the final result of the vote, the state of affairs is unprecedented in Senegal.
The nation has by no means skilled a coup since gaining independence from France in 1960, making it a uncommon outlier in a risky area.
The proposed delay has sparked rising worldwide concern, with the US, European Union and France all interesting for the election to be rescheduled as quickly as doable.
The chairman of the African Union fee, Moussa Faki Mahamat additionally urged Senegal to resolve its “political dispute via session, understanding and dialogue.”
Human Rights Watch warned that Senegal risked dropping its democratic credentials.
“Senegal has lengthy been thought of a beacon of democracy within the area. That is now in danger,” it mentioned in a press release.
“Authorities have to act to stop violence, rein in abusive safety forces, and finish their assault on opposition and media. They need to respect freedom of speech, expression, and meeting, and restore Web, placing Senegal again on its democratic course.”
The disaster has led to fears of the type of violent unrest that broke out in March 2021 and June 2023, which resulted in dozens of deaths and a whole bunch of arrests.
Tensions soared over hypothesis that Sall was contemplating operating for a 3rd time period, till he finally confirmed final July that he wouldn’t stand once more.
Regardless of outrage on social media on the weekend, anger over the delay of the presidential vote didn’t spill into the streets in giant numbers.
The opposition suspects the postponement is a part of a plan by the presidential camp to keep away from defeat, and even to increase Sall’s time period in workplace, regardless of him saying on Saturday he wouldn’t stand for re-election.
Sall has designated Prime Minister Amadou Ba from his occasion as his would-be successor.
Nevertheless, with the occasion break up over his candidacy, he confronted doable defeat on the poll field.
Sall on Saturday mentioned that he delayed the vote due to a dispute between the Nationwide Meeting and the Constitutional Council over the rejection of candidates.