Senegal Shuts Down Internet Over Protests Against Presidential Election Postponement

Senegal Shuts Down Internet Over Protests Against Presidential Election Postponement

Senegal has temporarily shut down internet access after some citizens took to the streets to protest President Macky Sall’s postponement of the presidential poll.

Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy, in a Monday statement explained that the internet disconnection was done “due to the dissemination of several hateful and subversive messages relayed on social networks in the context of threats and disturbances to public order.”

Information Nigeria reports that on Saturday, Sall cited conflicts within the constitutional council, the body that screens candidates for the presidency of the country, as reason for the postponement of the election.

The council also compiles the list of candidates and manages disagreements arising from the election of the President and members of the National Assembly. It also declares the results of the votes.

Only 20 of 200 candidates were approved, leading to protests within political parties and citizens of the country who accused the council of selectively picking and shunning certain candidates.

“I will initiate an open national dialogue to bring together the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election in a peaceful and reconciled Senegal,” Sall said in a national broadcast.

Several protesters could be heard chanting “Macky Sall dictator” outside the parliament on Monday, referring to the incumbent president, after being scattered by security forces, as reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP) .

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The protesters are reportedly being rallied by opposition figures.

It is however the first time a Senegalese presidential election has been postponed.

The lawmakers are expected to discuss a bill that suggests scheduling the presidential election for August 25 and allowing President Sall to remain in office until his successor is officially sworn in.

British Broadcasting Corporation reports that former Prime Minister and opposition candidate, Aminata Touré, announced on social media that she had been released after being arrested during Sunday’s protest.

“Let us all mobilise to defend our democracy. No to the postponement of the presidential election,” she said in an online post.

Another opposition candidate, Daouda Ndiaye, also claimed he was attacked by police.

He shared on social media that he had been hospitalised but stressed the importance of holding an election on February 25.

The internet shutdown, which will be the third in Senegal in the last nine months, comes a day after a private television channel was cut off air after the government accused it of inciting violence in its coverage of the protests.

Amnesty International, Senegal chapter, condemned the government’s actions and urged the authorities to “respect freedom of the press and the rights of the citizens to be informed.”

On Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) asked Senegal to swiftly set a new date for the presidential election while underscoring the importance of democratic processes.

Opposition leaders had termed the election postponement as a “constitutional coup.”

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