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Death of teenager takes Senegal protest toll to three

Protests against the move pitting youths against the security forces are turning increasingly violent (GUY PETERSON)
Protests against the move pitting youths against the security forces are turning increasingly violent (GUY PETERSON)

A 16-year-old died following clashes in southern Senegal, a hospital source and a local politician said Sunday, the third fatality in unrest after President Macky Sall postponed this month's presidential election.

Sall's decision to push back the February 25 presidential vote has plunged Senegal into one of its worst crises since independence from France in 1960.

Protests pitting youths against the security forces have turned increasingly violent in a country long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in West Africa, a region roiled by coups and unrest.

Landing Camara, who was known as Diedhiou, died Saturday evening in hospital after being wounded in the town of Ziguinchor in the Casamance region. His identity papers showed he was 16, after the hospital source said he was 19.

The southern city is a stronghold of jailed opposition figurehead Ousmane Sonko. Youths and security forces clashed there throughout the day, the protesters setting up road blocks and throwing stones.

The teenager "took a projectile to the head and died of his injuries in intensive care", the hospital source in Ziguinchor told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"There were several seriously wounded people during the protests and one died. He was hit in the head by a bullet," said Abdou Sane, coordinator of the opposition party Pastef in Ziguinchor.

Two other youths have died following protests in the capital Dakar and northern city of Saint-Louis since Friday.

In Dakar, a 23-year-old, was shot "in the stomach with a live round", his brother who was with him told AFP.

The circumstances around the death of a 22-year-old at a university campus in Saint-Louis remain unclear.

- Calls to restore election date -

The Saint-Louis prosecutor's office said it had opened an investigation into the death. The interior ministry issued a statement denying that security forces had been operating on the campus.

The US Bureau of African Affairs shared condolences with the families and friends of the victims in a message on social media.

"Saddened to learn of two lives lost", it said on X, formerly Twitter.

"We urge all parties to act in a peaceful and measured manner, and we continue to call on President Sall to restore the electoral calendar, restore confidence, and bring calm to the situation."

The European Union urged Senegal's authorities to "guarantee fundamental freedoms" after the latest fatality, the bloc's foreign affairs and security policy spokesperson Nabila Massrali said on X, formerly Twitter.

Sall said he postponed the election because of a dispute between parliament and the Constitutional Council over potential candidates barred from running.

He has said he wants to begin a process of "appeasement and reconciliation" and reiterated a commitment not to stand for a third term amid expressions of international concern.

Opposition leaders have denounced the move as a "constitutional coup" and condemned the crackdown on protesters.

Senegal's parliament backed the move on Monday and voted to keep Sall in office until his successor takes over, which is unlikely to be before early 2025. His second term had been due to end on April 2.

Campaigners from the Aar Sunu Election group (Protect our Election) have called for fresh protests on Tuesday.

On Sunday evening, the head of Walf TV announced that the station was back on air, a week after its signal was cut by the authorities for "incitement to violence".

"We have met President Macky Sall and he has decided to re-establish the signal," Cheikh Niass, managing director of the station, told AFP.

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