Civil society urge nationwide strike, protest in Senegal after vote delay

The call for mass mobilisation comes as a major political upheaval continues in the usually stable West African nation.

Senegalese protest
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against the arrest of opposition leader and former presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko near the Justice Palace in Dakar, Senegal on March 8, 2021 [Sylvain Cherkaoui/AP Photo]

A coalition of Senegalese civil society groups on Thursday called for mass mobilisation against the delay to this month’s presidential poll, outlining a series of planned actions including a protest and strike.

The normally stable West African nation has plunged into its worst political upheaval in decades after lawmakers backed President Macky Sall’s decision to postpone the February 25 election until mid-December.

“We invite all citizens concerned by the preservation of democratic gains to mobilise en masse throughout the country and in the diaspora to prevent this seizure of power,” the newly formed platform Aar Sunu Election (Let’s protect our election) said in a statement.

The collective includes some 40 citizen, religious, and professional groups, including several education unions.

“A major demonstration is planned for Tuesday,” Malick Diop, who described himself as one of the platform’s coordinators, told journalists in Dakar.

The speakers at the event also mentioned a call for a general strike on an unspecified date and a walkout in the education sector from Friday.

The platform called on Muslims to attend Friday prayers wearing white and flying the national colours.

The call comes as West African foreign ministers are holding emergency talks in Nigeria’s capital Abuja to discuss the political crisis in Senegal.

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged Senegal – one of its most stable member states – to return to its election timetable. But critics have already questioned the group’s sway over increasingly defiant member states.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies