Senegal President Macky Sall has announced a delay to the presidential elections, which were due to take place this month.
The president issued a statement on February 3, raising concerns about the potential conflict between the legislative and judicial powers. Sall has cast the dispute as one between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court.
It was not clear when a new vote might be held, with the move seemingly opening the way to continue Sall’s rule indefinitely.
Sall held talks with various officials on the need for a “national dialogue to ensure free, transparent and inclusive elections”.
The UK has raised concerns. Describing itself as a “close friend” to Senegal, the UK said it respected the country’s tradition of democracy.
“We are concerned about the uncertainty created by postponing the Presidential elections,” the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said. “We join with ECOWAS in urging the Senegalese authorities to swiftly set a new date for elections, and in encouraging all participants to work together peacefully towards a transparent, inclusive and credible election process.”
FCDO guidance published previously had warned that demonstrations were likely in the run up to elections in Dakar and other cities. The UK ministry warned such protests could turn violent, blocking roads.
There were protests over the weekend, with the authorities arresting a number of people and firing tear gas in Dakar.
Netblocks has reported a drop in internet traffic in Senegal, with the government ordering restrictions in order to preserve public order.
France asked the Senegal authorities to “remove the uncertainties regarding the electoral timetable so that the election can be held as soon as possible and in compliance with the rules of Senegalese democracy”.
Circumstances of delay
ECOWAS also noted Sall’s decision. The group said it was concerned “over the circumstances that have led to the postponement of the elections and appeals to the competent authorities to expedite the various processes in order to set a new date for the elections”.
The vote had been due to take place on February 25. Sall’s term is due to end on April 2.
Sall has said he would not run for a third term, a pledge he reiterated in his weekend statement. Critics of the announcement to delay the Senegal vote described it as a “coup”.
Potential bidders for the presidency include Karim Wade and Ousmane Sonko. The constitutional court blocked Wade from running, citing his dual nationality. The court also rejected Sonko. The police arrested him in 2023. He lost a court case in January, removing him from the electoral rolls.
Sall has backed Senegal Prime Minister Amadou Ba as his successor.
Woodside Energy is due to bring its 100,000 barrel per day Sangomar project around mid-2024 in Senegal. BP is also set to start up the first phase of its offshore LNG project early in the third quarter.
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