Senegalese lawmakers vote to postpone presidential election to December 15

Senegalese lawmakers vote to postpone presidential election to December 15

DAKAR--Senegal's parliament on Monday voted to hold a postponed presidential election on Dec. 15 in the face of public outcry that led some opposition lawmakers to blockade proceedings until security forces intervened.

The move follows President Macky Sall's unprecedented announcement of a postponement on Saturday that pitched the West African nation into uncharted constitutional waters and threatens to further tarnish its reputation as a bastion of democratic stability in a region swept by coups. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse protests outside parliament as lawmakers discussed the bill that initially proposed rescheduling the Feb. 25 vote to Aug. 25 and keeping Sall in power until his successor is installed. By the evening, just before the final vote, the bill was amended to propose the even later election date of Dec. 15, but it was passed by 105 MPs in the 165-seat Assembly. The last-minute amendment to postpone the election to December rather than August is likely to provoke further opposition backlash and risk a repeat of violent protests that have broken out over the past three years partly over Sall's alleged authoritarian overreach. After hours of procedural discussions, lawmakers had been due to start the debate and vote on the bill, when around a dozen opposition members rushed the central dais and refused to leave, effectively halting parliamentary business. More than two hours later, security forces moved them off the central area, allowing the vote to proceed. "What you are doing is not democratic, it’s not republican," said Guy Marius Sagna, who was one of several rebel MPs wearing a sash in the colours of the Senegalese flag. The postponement faced strong pushback elsewhere on Monday. At least three of the 20 presidential candidates submitted legal challenges to the delay, Constitutional Council documents showed. Two more candidates have vowed to challenge it via the courts. Around 100 people gathered outside parliament on Monday, after confrontations on Sunday, chanting "Macky Sall is a dictator". Police fired tear gas, chased them into side streets and made arrests. Authorities temporarily restricted mobile internet access from Sunday night, citing hate messages on social media and threats to public order. Several schools sent pupils home early. The private Walf television channel said it was taken off air on Sunday and had its licence revoked. "Senegal has been known as a country with a strong democracy but this is no longer the case," one protester who only gave his first name, Dame, told Reuters. "The only thing we want is a fair election." He said he was worried Sall would cling on to power indefinitely. The African Union and United States on Monday joined a chorus of calls from regional bodies and Western governments for a new election date to be set as soon as possible.

The Daily Herald

Copyright © 2020 All copyrights on articles and/or content of The Caribbean Herald N.V. dba The Daily Herald are reserved.

Without permission of The Daily Herald no copyrighted content may be used by anyone.

Comodo SSL

Hosted by

© 2024 The Daily Herald. All Rights Reserved.