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In Senegal, security forces forcibly disperse a gathering in Dakar

Photo: Guy Peterson Agence France-Presse Police in riot gear kept at bay people trying to access the vast esplanade of Place de la Nation by firing tear gas, provoking clashes.

Alice Chancellor – Agence France-Presse and Soulé Dia – Agence France-Presse in Dakar

2:32 p.m.

  • Africa

Security forces violently dispersed an attempted rally in Dakar on Friday, during a day that tested the balance of power between the power of President Macky Sall, civil society and the opposition.

This mobilization is the first large-scale protest since the postponement of the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25, which opened a serious political crisis in Senegal and plunged the country into a period of uncertainty.

Police in riot gear kept away people trying to access the vast esplanade of Place de la Nation by firing tear gas, provoking clashes. A cloud of smoke rose above the entire area.

All access to the square is closed, AFP journalists noted. The highway and major roads in the capital were also blocked. The train has been stopped.

Protesters responded by throwing rocks and setting up barricades with makeshift objects — boards and stones — and setting tires on fire. In Colobane, where the stalls are usually crowded, all the stores have closed.

The clashes went beyond the area around the Place de la Nation to affect other areas of the capital.

“The Senegalese must be outraged and not only on social networks,” one of the presidential candidates, Thierno Alassane Sall, told AFP.

Protests in several other cities across the country were reported on social media. In the commune of Nioro du Rip, some 250 km east of Dakar, a demonstration of around 200 people was dispersed by the police, noted an AFP journalist.


At the Masjidounnour mosque in Dakar, for the great Muslim Friday prayer, imam Ahmed Dame Ndiaye protested against the political situation.

“Even the president can make mistakes and in this case it is up to us to tell him the truth,” he said, adding that “no one has the right to watch the society being destroyed.”

For muezzin Souleymane Ndiaye, President Macky Sall “has backed down and it is a shame for all Senegalese. The word given is sacred.”

In the morning, teachers set the tone with walkouts in schools. At the Blaise Diagne high school in Dakar, hundreds of students left their classes at 10 a.m., like Seynabou Ba, 18, who says he “no longer has hope” for democracy in his country.

“This is just the start of a fight. If the government persists, we will be forced to take other actions,” said Assane Sene, a unionized history-geography professor at the school.

The postponement of the presidential election for 10 months has sparked outrage widely shared on social networks. The opposition cries a “constitutional coup”. She suspects a scheme to avoid the defeat of the candidate from the presidential camp, or even to keep President Sall at the head of the country for several more years.

A group of 14 opposition candidates filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in the afternoon.

Attempts to demonstrate since the announcement of the postponement have been repressed and dozens of people arrested. Authorities have commonly banned such protests and prevented them from taking place in recent years.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested since 2021 during different episodes of protest.

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  • Mobilization in Senegal against the indefinite postponement of the presidential election

Protest peacefully

The Aar Sunu Election (“Let’s Protect Our Election”) collective, which is planning another demonstration on Tuesday, insisted on its desire to protest peacefully and maintain its independence. A dozen candidates opposed to the change of calendar, out of the 20 selected by the Constitutional Council, expressed their desire for convergence with civil society.

President Sall decreed last Saturday the postponement of the presidential election, just three weeks before the deadline, in the midst of a political fight over the candidates retained or rejected for the vote.

The National Assembly approved on Monday a postponement until December 15, with the votes of the presidential camp and supporters of a failed candidate and under the protection of the gendarmes.

It also voted to maintain Mr. Sall in power until his successor takes office, probably in early 2025. Mr. Sall's second term officially expired on April 2.

After maintaining doubt for months, he repeated on different occasions, and again on Wednesday evening, the commitment made in 2023 not to run again.

Faced with one of the most serious political crises in recent decades, President Sall said he wanted to initiate a process of “appeasement and reconciliation”.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116