Senegal’s parliament has voted to delay the West African nation’s presidential election until December 15 due to a chaotic voting process. Security forces stormed the legislative building and removed several opposition lawmakers who were trying to block the voting process on the unprecedented delay of the presidential election initially scheduled for Feb. 25.
The adopted bill extends President Macky Sall’s tenure until a new election. Authorities restricted mobile internet access amid growing protests by opposition supporters against the delay. Security forces fired tear gas at protesters gathered outside the legislative building, many of whom were arrested as they poured into the streets of Dakar, burning tires and criticizing the country’s leader.
The crisis in Senegal is putting one of Africa’s most stable democracies to the test at a time when the region is struggling with a recent surge in coups. The African Union urged the government to organize the election “as soon as possible” and called on everyone involved to resolve any political dispute through consultation, understanding, and civilized dialogue.
Amnesty International’s regional office for West and Central Africa said the government’s abrupt shutdown of internet access via mobile data and Walf TV’s broadcasting constitutes a blatant assault on the right to freedom of expression and press rights protected by Senegal’s constitution.