The vote, originally scheduled to take place on February 25, was delayed after a dispute over the candidate list.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall has indefinitely postponed the presidential election that was scheduled to take place on February 25.
Speaking in a televised address to the nation on Saturday, the president announced he had cancelled the relevant electoral law, citing a dispute over the candidate list.
Sall said he signed a decree abolishing a measure from November 2023 that had set the original election date.
“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,” he said, without giving a new date.
The announcement comes as lawmakers investigate two Constitutional Council judges whose integrity in the election process has been questioned.
Last month, election authorities excluded some opposition members from the list of candidates.
The opposition Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), whose candidate Karim Wade was among those excluded, had earlier submitted a formal request to postpone the vote.
However another party said pausing the election would be what it called “an institutional coup d’etat”.
The constitutional council’s decision to exclude prominent contenders has fuelled growing discontent about the election process, with excluded candidates saying the rules for candidacy were not applied fairly – something the authorities deny.
“These troubled conditions could seriously undermine the credibility of the ballot by sowing the seeds of pre- and post-electoral disputes,” the president said in his address.
‘Faced with uncertainty’
Al Jazeera’s Nicholas Haque, reporting from Dakar, said Sall cited numerous reasons why the election could not take place.
“There has been doubt over the electoral process … That’s because some of the major candidates or political opposition leaders are not in the race,” he said.
Among those excluded are Wade, who is in exile in Qatar, and was not allowed to take part in the race because of accusations he had dual French-Senegalese citizenship, Haque said. Another excluded candidate, Rose Wardini, is currently in detention also accused of having dual citizenship. And popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko as well as his stand-in for the election, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, are also in jail, our correspondent explained.
“So the circumstances of the electoral process in what is normally one of the most stable democracies in the region seemed unstable. And that’s why President Macky Sall said he took that decision to delay the elections and call for national dialogue,” Haque said.
Sall has said that he will not run for a third term, a point he reiterated in his address on Saturday. “As for me, my solemn commitment not to run for the presidential election remains unchanged,” he said.
This is the first time a Senegalese presidential election has been postponed.
“[Senegal] has always had a peaceful democratic process and electoral process in which one president hands over power to the next, so this is really unprecedented for the government, for the electoral process, and for the Senegalese people,” Haque said.
“There were 20 candidates in the running. Now the Senegalese people are faced with uncertainty on who will lead this country and, more importantly, when the election will take place.”
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