February 28, 2024

Violent protests erupt after President Macky Sall postponed presidential elections by several months.

A student has been killed in the Senegalese city of Saint-Louis during violent protests against the postponement of the presidential election.

Clashes between security forces and protesters gripped Senegal’s capital and other cities on Friday, the first widespread unrest over the delay of a vote that many fear could lead to protracted instability.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Interior and Public Security said it had been informed of the death of student Alpha Yero Tounkara and that it would be investigated, but denied its forces were to blame.

“The Defence and Security Forces did not intervene to maintain order on the university campus where the death occurred,” it said.

It was not immediately clear if protests continued on Saturday. Further violent standoffs with security forces will add to fears of democratic retreat.

Less than three weeks before the February 25 presidential vote, parliament voted to push it back to December, sealing an extension of President Macky Sall’s mandate, which has raised concerns that one of the remaining democracies in coup-hit West Africa is under threat.

Sall has reached his constitutional limit of two terms.

The vote in parliament took place after opposition lawmakers were forcibly removed from the chamber as the debate was ongoing.

After parliament voted, 39 lawmakers in the opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi, and several opposition presidential candidates filed legal challenges against the delay with the Constitutional Court.

In an attempt to quell the anger, Sall said he had postponed the election to restore trust in the electoral process after the list of candidates was put into question.

But anger remained high, with critics denouncing the move as an “institutional coup”.

“We are fed with Macky Sall, he already had two terms what else does he want?” a protester told Al Jazeera.

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