Senegal will hold presidential vote

FILE - Senegal President Macky Sall poses before an interview with The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 9 , 2024. Senegal will hold elections as soon as possible given that the country's top election authority has overturned a decree by President Sall to postpone the vote, the government said Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, File)
FILE - Senegal President Macky Sall poses before an interview with The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 9 , 2024. Senegal will hold elections as soon as possible given that the country's top election authority has overturned a decree by President Sall to postpone the vote, the government said Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, File)

DAKAR, Senegal -- Senegal will hold a presidential election as soon as possible given that the country's top election authority has overturned a decree by President Macky Sall to postpone the vote, the government said Friday.

In early February, Sall sought to postpone the Feb. 25 election citing unresolved disputes over who could run, and the National Assembly voted to reschedule it for Dec. 15.

However, the country's Constitutional Council ruled Thursday that those moves were unconstitutional and ordered the government to hold the election as soon as possible, presumably allowing enough time for campaigning. The panel acknowledged that Feb. 25 wouldn't now be feasible, but said the government should act quickly.

In a statement Friday, presidential spokesperson Yoro Dia said Sall intends to ensure full compliance with the council's decision and hold the elections as soon as possible, though the government didn't yet specify a new date.

Senegal has been seen as one of the region's most stable democracies, but election disputes have plunged the country into a political crisis that has sparked deadly protests and cuts to mobile internet service. At least three people have been killed by security forces and dozens injured.

Sall has been accused of trying to delay leaving office, something he denied during an AP interview last week.

Local and international pressure has mounted since the moves to delay the vote.

In a post Friday on X, formerly Twitter, the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs commended the council's decision "to put Senegal back on track for a timely presidential election."

The West African region bloc ECOWAS said in a statement Friday that Sall should stick to the election timetable and requested the "competent authorities" to set a date for the presidential election in accordance with the council's decision.

Sall, who came to power in 2012, is set to finish his two terms on April 2. According to the constitution, elections have to be held 30-45 days before his mandate ends.


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