Senegal president seeks calm after election-delay outcry

Feb 8, 2024

Burp, senegal Opposition groups tried to mobilize on Thursday after President Mackey sall The move was an attempt to quell widespread public outrage over the delay in this month's presidential election, which has drawn international condemnation.
The normally stable West African nation was plunged into its worst political turmoil in decades this week when lawmakers voted almost unanimously in favor of postponing February 25 elections until mid-December.
The controversial vote paved the way for President Sall – whose second term was due to end in early April – to remain in office until his successor is installed, possibly in 2025.
Foreign ministers from West Africa's ECOWAS bloc were due to meet for emergency talks on Thursday, with Senegal's political turmoil likely to be on the crisis list along with disputes with military rulers in the three coup-hit countries.
ECOWAS, the European Union and the United States have called on Senegal to restore its electoral calendar.
In one of the most critical responses so far, Washington said the vote to delay the election “cannot be considered legitimate” after security forces removed opposition representatives who opposed the bill.
Senegal's international allies have called the move a blow to the country's long-held democratic principles and expressed concern that it risks spreading unrest in a region seen as a bastion of stability in volatile West Africa .
A rare occurrence on the continent, Senegal has never experienced a coup since gaining independence from France in 1960.
– 'Internal political logic' –
But officials have shown no sign of reconsidering delaying this year's presidential election.
“We are hearing this message,” the Foreign Minister said. ismaila madior fall “But we are now giving priority to the internal political logic,” he told France 24 television on Wednesday evening.
Sall said on Saturday he postponed the vote because of the dispute between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council over the rejection of candidates and fears of unrest seen in 2021 and 2023.
Members of SAIL's parliamentary camp and those seeking to ban a potential candidate from standing voted in favor of a moratorium on Monday.
But the opposition suspects the delay is part of a plan by the presidential camp to avoid defeat or even extend Sall's term in office, despite him reiterating on Saturday that he would not run again.
Attempted demonstrations have been suppressed by security forces and dozens have been arrested.
Senegal's opposition appears to be trying to formulate a coherent strategy, calling for strikes and sit-ins starting Thursday.
About 40 civil society organisations, including several trade unions, have united to call for a “day of no action” on Friday in the capital Dakar.
But despite widespread outrage and sporadic calls for action, life continued as normal in the city on Thursday.
– 'Peace in the Public Sector' –
Sall told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening that he wanted to begin “a practical process of peace and reconciliation,” a statement from his office said.
It did not elaborate on what measures he wanted the authorities – particularly the Justice Ministry – to implement, stating only his desire to “bring peace to the public sphere”.
SAIL also confirmed its decision not to take part in the elections and “renewed its confidence in the Prime Minister amadou ba,
Ba was selected by Sall as his coalition's presidential candidate, but his candidacy was strongly opposed within his own camp.
A statement issued by the President's Office said that Ba has so far remained silent on the ongoing crisis, but has expressed his support for postponing the elections.

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