Senegal President Macky Sall.
Evgeny Biatov/Ria Novosti/AFP
- The Senegalese government shut down the internet and an independent TV station when riots ensued in Dakar.
- The regional and international community is concerned about the uncertainty created by postponing the country’s presidential elections.
- Between March 2021 and August 2023, police and internal security killed at least 56 people during protests.
On Monday, legislators in Senegal voted to postpone elections that were slated for 25 February to the end of the year, and the international community is worried about what that means for West Africa’s beacon of democracy.
Senegal has never had a coup or civil war since independence from France in 1960. This is the first time in its history that elections have been delayed.
In a statement, the UK said it was “concerned about the uncertainty created by postponing the presidential elections” to 15 December.
African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat stressed the need for “transparency, peace and national harmony” in this period of upheaval.
The postponement came a day after the EU deployed an election observation mission to Senegal. The team was led by Malin Björk, a Swedish member of the European Parliament.
During the Monday vote, on the eve of the official start of campaigns, opposition legislators were driven out of the Senegalese Parliament as the law to postpone the plebiscite received 105 votes for and one against.
The Senegalese Assembly has 165 members. A law requires a 60% vote to be passed.
Days before the vote, the internet was shut down amid demonstrations, mostly in the capital Dakar.
Privately owned Walf TV was taken off the air for allegedly inciting violence.
In announcing the postponement, President Macky Sall highlighted an institutional crisis that he warned could jeopardise the election’s integrity.
He also reaffirmed his decision not to run.
Had the elections gone ahead on 25 February, Sall’s last day in office would have been 2 April.
Last month, a constitutional council ruled that numerous candidates – including major opposition leader Ousman Sonko and Karim Wade, son of Sall’s predecessor Abdoulaye Wade (corr) – would be barred from running.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Sahel researcher for Human Rights Watch, argued that postponing the election “puts rights at risk”.
The election postponement does not sit well with many, particularly opposition supporters, and there are fears of more intense protests to come.
Samira Daoud, director of the Amnesty International office for West and Central Africa, said authorities must respect people’s rights.
“After protests erupted in Dakar on Sunday, as demonstrators opposed the suspension of the presidential elections process, Amnesty International calls on the authorities and security forces to respect and protect the right to peaceful assembly, and refrain from resorting to excessive use of force.
“The authorities must also ensure that demonstrators and political opposition figures are not arbitrarily arrested at demonstrations,” he said.
Between March 2021 and August 2023, the Senegalese police and gendarmerie (a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security) killed at least 56 people during protests.
To date, no one has been charged for the deaths.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/fear-and-uncertainty-as-west-africas-beacon-of-democracy-senegal-postpones-election-20240206
Publish date : 2024-02-06 16:46:47