Violent protests have roiled Senegal since President Macky Sall abruptly called off a planned election at the weekend, with just three weeks to go before the high-stakes vote. The crisis puts one of West Africa’s most stable democracies to the test at a time when the region faces democratic backsliding and a surge in military coups.
Senegal’s parliament voted on Monday to delay the country’s presidential election until December 15, two days after President Sall stunned the nation of 18 million people by calling off a planned February 25 vote.
The bill adopted by the National Assembly effectively extends Sall’s 12-year tenure, which was due to end on April 2. It was passed near-unanimously, with 105 votes in favour and just one against, after several opposition lawmakers were forcibly removed from the chamber.
Its passage came as police used tear gas to disperse protesters gathered outside the parliament building and as mobile internet services were suspended nationwide to counter the threat of “hateful and subversive messages on social media”.
The controversial move marks the first time a Senegalese election is postponed since the introduction of multi-party democracy in 1974. It has triggered fierce protests in the West African nation, seen as a democratic bastion of stability in a volatile region roiled by successive military coups.
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