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Senegal Parliament Delays Elections Until December After Opposition Showdown

WorldSenegal Parliament Delays Elections Until December After Opposition Showdown

Senegal’s Parliament voted late Monday to delay elections until December, after opposition lawmakers seeking to block the vote were thrown out of the National Assembly. The vote came after President Macky Sall last week postponed the upcoming ballot, a move critics condemned as an “institutional coup.”

Voters had been preparing to go to the polls on Feb. 25, until Mr. Sall — who has said he is not seeking a third term — announced on Saturday that he was postponing the election. Experts and many opposition and civil society leaders called it a power grab by an unpopular president who is not certain that his chosen successor would win.

But on Monday night, police officers in helmets and bulletproof vests expelled opposition members from the National Assembly, preventing them from voting after a marathon session debating the legality of Mr. Sall’s move. The bill then passed with a vote of 105 to 1. In effect, Mr. Sall will be allowed to stay on until the election is held on Dec. 15, nearly 10 months after his presidency is supposed to conclude.

Anticipating an outburst of protest, the government on Monday morning cut internet access to cellphones, banned motorcycles in the capital, Dakar, and sent hundreds of security forces into the streets in a show of force. The big public protests that had been expected for Monday afternoon never materialized; Dakar’s streets emptied, as many residents chose to stay indoors.

When Mr. Sall announced that he was postponing the election, he said in his address to the nation that a dispute between the national assembly and the constitutional court needed to be resolved before a vote could be held, but critics dismissed this as a “manufactured crisis.”

On Sunday, isolated protests broke out across Dakar, but they were quickly put down by security forces who used tear gas and arrested several demonstrators, including former Prime Minister Aminata Touré.

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