Senegalese parliament delays presidential vote by 10 months

West African bloc calls on Senegalese politicians to re-establish electoral calendar

West Africa’s main economic and political bloc, Ecowas, on Tuesday called on Senegalese politicians to take urgent steps to re-establish an electoral calendar in line with the constitution after parliament delayed the presidential vote by 10 months.

Lawmakers late on Monday approved a last-minute amendment to hold the vote on December 15th, instead of February 25th, sealing an extension of president Macky Sall’s mandate that has sparked street protests and international alarm.

The surprise postponement has dismayed those who thought Senegal would stick to a standard electoral course – something that has become increasingly uncommon in West Africa, where Ecowas is grappling with the fallout from a string of military takeovers in other countries in recent years.

Ecowas did not refer directly to the new election date, but its statement suggested the bloc views the postponement as unconstitutional.


“The Ecowas commission encourages the political class to urgently take the necessary measures to re-establish the electoral calendar in accordance with the provisions of the constitution,” it said.

Mr Sall, who is not standing in the vote and has reached the constitutional limit of two terms in power, has said the delay was necessary due to a dispute over the candidate list and alleged corruption within the constitutional body that handled the list.

What happens next is unclear. Some opposition figures have launched legal challenges that could lead to prolonged wrangling in the courts.

The streets of Dakar were quiet on Tuesday with no immediate sign of further unrest that many have warned will be the inevitable consequence of the unprecedented postponement.

“We never thought that such a situation could happen... To decide like this overnight, it can only lead to confusion,” driver Pape Sene said at an intersection that was bustling with usual daytime traffic.

“How I see the situation, no one will come out because people are discouraged,” said another passerby, university student El Hadj Malick Diouf. “If I were them, I wouldn’t give up. We must fight, once and for all.”

Since Mr Sall announced the delay in an address to the nation on Saturday, the authorities have cracked down on street protests in the capital, restricted mobile internet, and pulled a private TV channel off air. - Reuters

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