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Senegal election authority overturns presidential vote delay

February 15, 2024

A decree signed by President Macky Sall to reschedule February's election for later in the year sparked widespread protests.

President Macky Sall speaking from a podium with the flag of Senegal behind him
President Macky Sall announced a 10-month delay to the elections in a move that would have kept him in officeImage: RTS/Reuters

Senegal's Constitutional Council on Thursday overturned the postponement of this month's presidential election.

The delay caused widespread protests and sparked the worst chaos Senegal has seen in years.

The Senegal election postponement

Parliament had voted earlier this month to delay elections until December. That came after President Macky Sall announced his decision to postpone the ballot that was slated for February 25.

Senegal's top election authority canceled Sall's decree in a judgement that was approved by seven members of the Constitutional  Council.

The National Assembly's move on February 5 to reschedule the vote for December 14 was "contrary to the constitution," the judgement said. 

Senegal: Anger and disillusion after election delay

The protests in Senegal after the election delay

At least three people were killed during clashes with security forces as protests over the postponement turned deadly over the weekend.

Rights group Amnesty International said that one of the victims was a 16-year-old boy. Security forces have been accused of using excessive force and repeatedly using tear gas to disperse protesters during demonstrations on February 4 and 5.

Security forces also removed opposition members from parliament as they tried to block the February 5 vote. Sall's party has a majority and the bill quickly passed, but the opposition described the move a "constitutional coup."

Senegal's government cut acess to mobile internet sevices earlier this week, with the Communications Ministry saying "hateful and subversive" messages were circulating online.

Senegal's election delay, President Macky Sall's legacy

Macky Sall accused of holding on to power

President Macky Sall delayed elections citing time needed to resolve controversies over the disqualification of some candidates and a conflict between the government's legislative and judicial branches. 

But critics have accused Mall of clinging on to power, even though he has vowed not to stay in office past the constitutionally bound two terms.

rm/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)