Demonstrators display a placard reading “Macky, coup plotter, get out” during a protest in Dakar, Senegal, February 9, 2024.
Image: EPA

The postponement of the presidential election has led to serious protests in Senegal. The West African country has long been considered a democratic role model in the region.

bClashes have broken out between demonstrators and security forces in the most serious protests to date against the postponement of the presidential election in Senegal. In the capital Dakar, police used tear gas, stun grenades and apparently rubber bullets against the angry crowd, as a Reuters reporter described on Friday. The demonstrators burned tires and threw stones. “Senegal may never have experienced a crisis like this,” said Justice Minister Aissata Tall Sall. You have to calm people's minds.

Less than three weeks before the planned election of a new head of state, Senegalese President Macky Sall postponed the planned date indefinitely. He cited disputes over the electoral process as the reason. The election is now scheduled to take place on December 15th. A postponement from February 25th to August 25th was originally planned. The opposition had previously tried unsuccessfully to block the proceedings in the National Assembly due to the long delay. President Macky Sall is expected to remain in power until his successor is installed.

There has never been a comparable event in the former French colony. Until now, the West African country has been considered a democratic role model in the region. Since independence from France in 1960, Senegal has seen a largely peaceful transfer of power following elections four times. Observers are now seeing the first steps towards a dictatorship.