Senegal’s former prime minister Aminata Touré, now a leading opposition figure, was arrested yesterday in the Dakar amid protests against the indefinite postponement of the presidential election, reported news agency AFP. Meanwhile, chaos erupted in the capital city as hundreds took to the streets over the delay and clashed with the police.
Hundreds of opposition party supporters and police clashed after Senegalese President Macky Sall announced an indefinite postponement of a presidential election set for February 25, a day before official campaigning was due to begin.
Sall, on Saturday cited a dispute between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court over the rejection of candidates as the reason for his intervention.
In the early signs of pushback against the postponement, around 200 protesters took to the streets waving Senegalese flags or wearing the jersey of the national football team early afternoon and blocked traffic on one of Dakar’s main streets. Some even burned tyres and threw rocks at the police.
This prompted the riot police to fire tear gas into the crowd and detain protesters. At least two opposition presidential candidates were reportedly detained by security forces.
Senegal’s former prime minister Touré was arrested, opposition deputy Guy Marius Sagna told AFP. “I confirm that Aminata Touré has been arrested by the gendarmes,” said Sagna.
Notably, Touré was appointed prime minister by the Sall before joining the opposition. Meanwhile, in an online post, candidate Daouda Ndiaye said he was attacked by police.
The former prime minister later confirmed that she had been detained and taken to a police station as she got out of her vehicle and called the incumbent president’s postponement an “unprecedented democratic regression.”
Further protests are expected outside parliament today. Notably, Senegal has never delayed a presidential vote. The announcement has plunged the country, once known as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, into chaos and Ecowas has also expressed concern and called for a new date to be set quickly.
France, on Sunday, also called on the Senegalese president to end the “uncertainty” created and called for a vote “as soon as possible”.
“We call on authorities to end the uncertainty about the electoral calendar so the vote can be held as soon as possible, under the rules of Senegalese democracy,” said the French foreign ministry, in a statement.
The European Union spokesperson Nabila Massrali echoed a similar call and said that the 27-nation bloc calls on “all actors to work…for the staging of a transparent, inclusive and credible election as soon as possible.”
The US State Department urged Senegal to “swiftly” set a date for a “timely, free and fair election,” in a post on X. It added: “We acknowledge allegations of irregularities, but we are deeply concerned about the disruption to the presidential electoral calendar.”