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Independent AfricaSenegal sees widespread protests over election postponement

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Senegal sees widespread protests over election postponement

Violent protests have erupted across Senegal in response to the postponement of presidential elections, with the first fatality reported as clashes intensify.

A student died during clashes with police on Friday in the northern city of Saint-Louis, as confirmed by an opposition leader and a local hospital source.

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In the capital Dakar, security forces deployed tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Originally scheduled for February 25, the elections were postponed until December 15, with President Macky Sall asserting that this decision was not about holding onto power.

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Earlier, Mr. Sall had indefinitely suspended the polls, citing the need to resolve a dispute over the eligibility of presidential candidates. Subsequently, lawmakers extended Mr. Sall’s mandate by 10 months.

Critics of the move argue that Senegal’s reputation as a democratic stronghold in an otherwise volatile region of West Africa is at stake.

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Opposition leader Khalifa Sall, unrelated to the president, denounced the election delay as a “constitutional coup.”

While Mr. Sall expressed willingness to step down, he emphasized the importance of ensuring stability and peace in the country.

The student’s death in Saint-Louis was reported by Khalifa Sall on social media, lamenting the clashes as a consequence of the unjustifiable interruption of the electoral process.

The incident was confirmed by a local hospital source and an official from the student’s university, according to AFP.

Senegalese authorities have yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Last weekend, mass protests erupted across the country, culminating in Friday’s confrontations in Dakar, where demonstrators clashed with security forces, leading to stone-throwing and tire-burning.

President Sall, although asserting he won’t seek reelection, faces accusations of attempting to retain power or unfairly influencing his successor.

While twenty candidates initially qualified for the elections, several were excluded by the Constitutional Council, responsible for determining candidates’ eligibility.

West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS, urged Senegal’s political leaders to urgently restore the electoral calendar in accordance with the constitution.

Senegal has long been regarded as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, having experienced three peaceful transfers of power and never delaying a presidential election.

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