Senegal parliament begins debating presidential poll delay

Protesters gesture after police fired teargas at them outside the General Assembly in Plateau, Dakar on February 5, 2024. – Security forces used tear gas to disperse an opposition rally outside Senegal’s parliament on February 5, 2024, shortly before the start of a contentious debate on postponing this month’s presidential election. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

Senegalese lawmakers on Monday began debating a proposal to postpone the presidential election, which was previously set for February 25, according to an AFP journalist.

President Macky Sall on Saturday announced a delay to the vote hours before campaigning was set to officially begin, sparking a political crisis.

Parliament is examining a text, adopted the previous day by a preparatory committee, proposing a delay of six months or even up to a year, until February 2025, according to the text distributed at the meeting.

Supporters of Karim Wade, whose bid to run in the presidential race was rejected by the Constitutional Council, presented the proposal.

It says that the aim of the postponement would be to “avoid institutional instability and serious political unrest”, and to ensure “a complete resumption of the electoral process”.

The text is supported by the parliamentary camp of President Sall.

Members of the preparatory committee recommended postponing the election until February 2025 to take account of the country’s “realities”.

These include the difficulties of campaigning in the rainy season and the possibility of the vote coinciding with major religious holidays, the text said.