Violent protests erupt in Senegal against delayed presidential elections; 3 dead

Feb 11, 2024

New Delhi: senegalPolitical crisis deepens due to loss of life of three people violent protests against President Macky Sall's decision to delay the upcoming presidential election,
The decision to postpone the presidential election, originally scheduled for February 25, has sparked anger within the country and concern abroad. Despite growing opposition, National Assembly delegates voted on Monday to reschedule elections for December.
President Sall has justified the postponement of the elections by citing a dispute between Parliament and the Constitutional Council over the qualifications of some candidates. He claimed to adopt the process of 'appeasement and reconciliation'. However, both the United States and the European Union have criticized the decision to delay the elections.
Senegal's parliament finally endorsed adjournment on Monday, following the forceful intervention of security forces who stormed the chamber and removed opposition representatives. Parliament also voted to extend Sall's term until his successor takes power, which is unlikely to happen before early 2025. His second term was originally scheduled to end on April 2.
Protests broke out across the country on Friday, with law enforcement agencies using tear gas to disperse crowds and shutting down main roads, rail lines and major markets. Reporters Without Borders reports that police targeted at least five journalists in Dakar. Campaigners from the R Sunu election group (Protect Our Elections) have called for new protests on Tuesday.
A 19-year-old man lost his life following clashes in Ziguinchor, the third death amid the unrest. The teenager died of injuries sustained when he was hit by a projectile on the head, according to an AFP hospital source and a local politician on Sunday. The incident occurred on Saturday evening and despite intensive care efforts, the man did not survive. Abdou Sane, coordinator of the opposition party Pastef in Ziguinchor, confirmed the death and said the victim was shot in the head amid protests, leaving several others seriously injured.
Modou Gueye, a 23-year-old market vendor, died tragically on Saturday after being shot during clashes in the capital Dakar on Friday, according to his relatives who spoke to AFP. Gueye's brother, Dame Gueye, said, “Tear gas grenades were fired and then we went to the railway station in Colobane to go home. There a gendarme shot him alive in the stomach.” His brother-in-law, Mbagnik Ndiaye, confirmed that he died on Saturday morning.
A 22-year-old second-year geography student named Alpha Yoro Tounkara died in the northern city of Saint-Louis in circumstances that have not yet been explained. Hundreds of his classmates held an all-night vigil in his memory. Videos circulated on social media indicate that other persons were also injured. The city prosecutor has started an investigation into the incident. However, the Interior Ministry denies that security forces were present on the university campus.
The crisis has raised concerns about Senegal's reputation for democratic stability in a region plagued by military coups. In Paris and Berlin, groups of protesters, mainly Senegalese, gathered on Saturday to demonstrate against President Sall and hold placards calling him a 'dictator'.

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