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May 27, 2024

Chaos in Senegal as Parliament Votes to Delay Election Until December

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Feb 7, 2024

Parliament Approves Controversial Election Delay

Senegal’s parliament approved a controversial bill on February 6th to delay the presidential election until December 15th, 2024, after a chaotic legislative session that saw opposition lawmakers ejected from the chamber [1]. The move extends current President Macky Sall’s tenure by three years amid accusations that he is carrying out a “constitutional coup” to stay in power [2].

The National Assembly voted late at night to change the constitution and enact the election delay by a wide margin – 98 votes for and 8 votes against – but only after authorities blocked internet access and TV broadcasts for much of the day following clashes near the parliament building in the capital Dakar [3]. Riot police also forcibly removed opposition members who tried to access the chamber to participate in the debate and vote [4].

The election postponement comes after weeks of rising political tensions over whether President Macky would seek a controversial third term in office [5]. The vote delay allows him to reset the two-term limit clock and potentially stand for re-election in 2024 [6].

International Condemnation and Calls for Election Timetable

The election delay has drawn widespread criticism both domestically and internationally. Regional bodies like the African Union (AU), the West African bloc ECOWAS, the EU and the UN have urged Senegal to restore the election calendar “as soon as possible” [7].

The AU emphasized the need for “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the crisis, while ECOWAS has threatened potential economic sanctions if democratic order is not restored [8]. The US State Department called the move “a troubling development for democracy in Senegal” and said it undermines the trust of the Senegalese people [9].

Meanwhile, exiled opposition candidate Ousmane Sonko labeled President Macky a “coup plotter” seeking to “confiscate power against the will of the people” [10]. Sonko called for continued peaceful resistance. Police arrested dozens of demonstrators in Dakar and other cities last weekend during protests over the delayed vote [11].

Disputed Legal Basis for Term Extension

Critics argue there is no constitutional basis for the National Assembly to extend Macky Sall’s first term, which was supposed to end on April 4th, 2024 after two five year terms [12].

The ruling party argues the term extension is necessary due to delayed census results that would allow redrawing of electoral districts – although the opposition disputes this rationale [13]. Legal experts have noted the constitution does not explicitly give the legislature power to extend the presidential term [14].

Key Dates
February 25, 2024 Scheduled date for first round presidential vote (now delayed)
April 4, 2024 End of Macky Sall’s second term
December 15, 2024 New date set for presidential election

“This so-called vote is patently unconstitutional and poses grave threats to Senegal’s democratic order and institutions,” said attorney Assane Dioma Ndaye [15].

##Economic Impacts and the Path Ahead

The political turmoil has shaken investor confidence, with rising borrowing costs reported on international bond markets last Friday [16]. Tourism could also take a major hit from prolonged unrest.

President Macky Sall has appealed for calm, denying accusations of a “coup.” Analysts say he still enjoys support from a coalition of lawmakers and should be able to see out his term extension until late 2024 [17]. But the opposition is likely to continue resisting through both street protests and legal channels.

“Senegalese democracy hangs by a thread,” the Economist wrote this week [18]. With the integrity of coming elections now in doubt, the stage is set for a volatile next 10 months that could make or break Macky Sall’s political future.

References

  1. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/6/senegal-parliament-delays-election-to-december-15-after-chaotic-vote
  2. https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/06/senegal-presidential-election-postponed-macky-sall-constitutional-coup/
  3. https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20240205-concern-anger-mount-as-internet-and-television-signal-cut-in-senegal
  4. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/6/senegal-parliament-delays-election-to-december-15-after-chaotic-vote
  5. https://time.com/6691788/senegal-postponed-presidential-election-candidates-explainer/
  6. https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/06/senegal-presidential-election-postponed-macky-sall-constitutional-coup/
  7. https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/senegal-should-hold-presidential-vote-soon-possible-african-union-2024-02-05/
  8. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/AU-Calls-for-Dialogue-to-Resolve-Political-Conflict-in-Senegal-20240205-0013.html
  9. https://www.state.gov/postponement-of-election-in-senegal/
  10. https://www.theafricareport.com/335917/macky-sall-has-joined-the-ranks-of-the-coup-plotters-thierno-alassane-sall/
  11. https://www.barrons.com/news/protests-muted-despite-outrage-over-senegal-bid-to-delay-poll-b394c605
  12. https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/06/senegal-presidential-election-postponed-macky-sall-constitutional-coup/
  13. https://time.com/6691788/senegal-postponed-presidential-election-candidates-explainer/
  14. https://www.jurist.org/news/2024/02/senegal-parliament-vote-to-delay-national-election-causing-protests/
  15. https://www.jurist.org/news/2024/02/senegal-parliament-vote-to-delay-national-election-causing-protests/
  16. https://www.barrons.com/news/protests-muted-despite-outrage-over-senegal-bid-to-delay-poll-b394c605
  17. https://worldview.stratfor.com/situation-report/senegal-national-assembly-votes-postpone-presidential-election-dec-15
  18. https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2024/02/04/senegals-democracy-hangs-by-a-thread
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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