Protests in Senegal against President Macky Sall putting off elections till December have spread across the country, says the BBC, with one student reported killed in the northern city of Saint Louis. Police fired tear gas in the capital Dakar to disperse angry demonstrators. Other reports said the death toll has risen to three.
President Macky Sall claims the delay in holding elections is unavoidable as electoral disputes will threaten the polls credibility. Parliament has backed the delay and scheduled elections for December 15 this year. This means the new president would likely take office in 2025.
Sall’s remit as president which officially ends on April 2 has been extended by 10 months. This means he will remain president till the new elections.
The Opposition has rejected this argument calling the move an “institutional coup.” They have filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court.
Senegal is the only country in West Africa to have maintained a stable democracy since independence from France in the 1960s. Coups in neighbouring Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso last year have shaken the credibility of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). All three countries have withdrawn from the grouping.
The developments in Senegal have had repercussions in Europe, especially France, which has a sizeable diaspora Senegalese community. Protests against Macky Sall have broken out in key cities in France including Paris, Bordeaux and Nice.