Violence Spreads In Senegal Over Election Postponement

Violent protests against the postponement of presidential elections have spread in Senegal, with the first fatality reported.

A student died in clashes with police in the northern city of Saint-Louis, an opposition leader and a local hospital source said at the weekend.

In the capital Dakar, security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The February 25 elections were delayed until December 15, with President Macky Sall denying clinging on to power. Mr Sall had earlier called off the polls indefinitely, arguing this was needed to resolve a dispute over the eligibility of presidential candidates.

Lawmakers later extended Mr Sall’s mandate by 10 months.

Opponents of the move have warned that Senegal’s reputation as a bastion of democracy in an unstable region of West Africa is on the line.

Opposition leader Khalifa Sall, who is not related to the president, earlier called the election delay a “constitutional coup”.

Mr Sall said he was ready to step down, but wanted to leave the country stable and peaceful.

The death of the student in Saint-Louis was reported by Khalifa Sall in a post on social media. “The hearts of all democrats bleed at this outburst of clashes provoked by the unjustified halting of the electoral process,” he said.

The death was confirmed by a local hospital source speaking on condition of anonymity, and by an official at the university the student attended, according to the AFP news agency.

The Senegalese authorities have not publicly commented on the issue.

The country’s mass protests erupted last weekend. On Friday, demonstrators in Dakar fought running battles with security forces, throwing stones and burning tyres.

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