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Senegal: Three Opposition MPs Arrested For Protesting Vote Delay

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Three Senegalese opposition lawmakers were arrested on Tuesday following parliament’s decision to delay a presidential vote by 10 months, leading West Africa’s economic and political bloc to call for the re-establishment of the electoral calendar.

The vote was scheduled for December 15 instead of February 25, sealing an extension of President Macky Sall’s mandate. This has sparked street protests and international alarm, with the U.S. Department of State expressing deep concern with the postponement, stating it ran “contrary to Senegal’s strong democratic tradition.”

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suggested that the bloc views the postponement as unconstitutional and urges the political class to urgently take necessary measures to re-establish the electoral calendar in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

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.

Ruling coalition lawmakers held a press conference to defend the move, urging citizens to participate in a national dialogue to ensure a free and transparent vote. However, what happens next is unclear, with some opposition figures launching 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. 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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