Opposition leaders reject Senegal election delays as West African bloc urges dialogue

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West Africa’s regional bloc on Sunday called for dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Senegal as opposition leaders rejected the decision by the country’s leader to postpone the 25 February presidential election over an electoral dispute between parliament and the judiciary.

Senegalese politicians must “prioritise dialogue and collaboration for transparent, inclusive and credible elections,” the regional bloc known as ECOWAS said in a statement that called on authorities to “expedite the various processes to set a new date for the elections” after Saturday’s postponement.

Analysts say the crisis is putting one of Africa’s most stable democracies to the test at a time when the region is struggling with a recent surge in coups. Senegal has been embroiled in political tensions as a result of deadly clashes involving opposition supporters and the disqualification of two opposition leaders ahead of the crucial vote.

Several opposition figures rejected President Macky Sall’s decision to postpone the election, with at least two of the 20 presidential candidates saying they would proceed with their campaign scheduled to kick off on Sunday.

Sall’s tenure is scheduled to end on 2 April. Senegal’s electoral code requires 80 days’ notice of an election, meaning the earliest a new vote could take place is the last week of April.

“I am launching my electoral campaign tomorrow, in Dakar, with the candidates who have chosen to defend the Constitution,” former minister and opposition candidate Thierno Alassane Sall said Saturday in a post on social media platform X.

Former mayor of the capital of Dakar Khalifa Sall also asked the citizens to “come together to save our democracy” while another opposition candidate, Déthié Fall, said, “We will start our campaign and we call on all candidates to do the same.”

There were no signs of unrest in Dakar on Sunday.

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