The decision to delay Senegal’s presidential election until December has elicited strong condemnation from the United States, marking a significant and critical response from one of Senegal’s major international allies.
The move has thrust this normally stable West African nation into its most severe crisis in decades, prompting growing concern both domestically and abroad.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the postponement on Monday night, a decision made under contentious circumstances. Security forces stormed the chamber, removing some opposition deputies who were consequently unable to cast their votes.
The United States, through Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the US State Department, expressed deep concern over these actions and the subsequent delay, deeming it inconsistent with Senegal’s established democratic tradition.
In a statement published on Tuesday, Miller emphasized the alarm caused by reports of security forces forcibly removing parliamentarians who opposed the bill to delay the election.
This forced intervention resulted in a National Assembly vote that the US State Department contends cannot be considered legitimate given the conditions under which it transpired.
The postponement of the election sets the stage for President Macky Sall, whose second term was slated to conclude in early April, to remain in office until his successor is eventually installed, likely in 2025. Opposition members have vehemently denounced this move, characterizing it as a “hostage” situation and labeling it a “constitutional coup.”
This delay represents an unprecedented situation for Senegalese voters, who were initially scheduled to elect their fifth president on February 25 but are now facing a nearly 10-month delay.
The United States, in response to these developments, not only expressed its deep concern but also urged the Government of Senegal to proceed with the presidential election in accordance with the Constitution and electoral laws. This plea underscores the significance of adhering to democratic principles and maintaining the integrity of electoral processes.
As Senegal grapples with this crisis, the critical stance taken by the United States signals the gravity of the situation, highlighting the potential consequences of the delayed election both domestically and on the international stage.