In Senegal, the standoff after the postponement of the presidential election continues. Demonstrations were dispersed by the police on Friday February 9 in several cities. At least two people have died.
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With our special correspondent in Dakar, Charlotte Idrac
His death was announced this Saturday morning. Modou Gueye, 23, from Pikine, a suburb of Dakara, died this morning at the capital’s main hospital. The death certificate mentions a “ accidental death by firearm “. But according to a member of his family reached by telephone, “ a gendarme shot him in the stomach » Friday in the Colobane district. “ He did not participate in the demonstrations, he came to make purchases », specifies his brother-in-law. At this stage, the authorities have not communicated.
This death follows that of Alpha Yero Tounkara, student in geography at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis. According to a university official, the latter died “ as a result of injuries sustained during demonstrations “. The prosecution has opened an investigation to determine the exact circumstances of his death. In a press release this Saturday, February 10, the Ministry of the Interior affirmed that “ the defense and security forces did not intervene on the campus where the death occurred. » Student representatives from Saint-Louis indicated the resumption of mobilization at the UGB « so that justice is done ” and ” democracy is respected “. The national higher education union, for its part, declared a 48-hour strike on Monday and Tuesday.
Contacted this Saturday morning, the Red Cross indicated that it was compiling data from its committees in the different regions to take stock of Friday’s clashes. The NGO Amnesty International Senegal reported this evening a third death, in Saint-Louis, which would not be directly linked to the demonstrations, but to an accident, that of a “ motorcyclist who tried to flee the police force on the Faidherbe bridge “. The organization also recorded 221 arrests on Friday throughout the country.
Several journalists’ associations, for their part, denounce targeted violence by the police against sisters and brothers who came to the field to cover the events.
For its part, the Association of Senegalese Jurists also takes a position. In a press release, she speaks of a “ major and critical turning point » for Senegal and condemns a “ violent and indiscriminate repression » mobilizations. “ As in any rights matter, we are awaiting the decisions that will result from the appeals. We must respect the electoral calendar and we must be able to go to the elections not in December but on the earliest possible date, explains its president, Aminata Fall Niang. The violence deeply shocked us. They were perpetrated against populations who had the right to demonstrate, and in particular against female journalists who were assaulted in full view of everyone. This is a strong attack on human rights and especially on the freedoms of all people to express themselves. »
In this context, executives of Alliance for the Republic, the presidential party, reaffirmed yesterday Saturday February 10 during a press conference their “ full support » to President Macky Sall. Cheikh Bakhoum is director general of the national company Senegal Numérique, and a member of the APR “task force”. For him, the protest is in the minority. He believes in the dialogue announced by the Head of State: “ We call on all stakeholders to come together around a table to talk about the essential, preserving the stability of Senegal. » However, he recognizes “ difficulties » in this stability, « a few demonstrations here and there » but believes that “ most of the population understands » and calls for “ another dialogue “.
Macky Sall defends his decision
On a legal level, fourteen presidential candidates filed an appeal before the Supreme Court to request the annulment of the decree taken by President Macky Sall to postpone the vote. At the same time, deputies seized the Constitutional Council this week against the law passed on February 5 in the Assembly and which postpones the election to December 15. But in an interview given to the American press agency AP and published this Saturday morning, President Macky Sall defends his decision to postpone the election. He assures ” be completely ready to pass the baton “, but does not say whether or not he would accept the decision of the Constitutional Council if it rejected the postponement. “ It is too early to consider this prospect. When the decision is made, I can say what I will do “, he explains.
On the international level, the United States, via its embassy in Dakar, once again called on Friday for “ restoration of the electoral calendar “. The European Union, for its part, called on the authorities to “ organize the election as quickly as possible “.
The citizen collective “Aar Sunu Election” (“Let’s protect our election”, in Wolof) which brings together civil society movements, religious organizations and unions, has already planned a mobilization for Tuesday February 13. In the meantime, mobilization continues abroad. This is the case in France where diaspora gatherings are being organized this Saturday, February 10 in Paris, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes and even Nice. The call was relayed on the social networks of the France branch of Pastef, the opposition party dissolved in July 2023.
Rally of Senegalese in Paris: “we are here to demand the restoration of constitutional order”