Following parliament’s decision to postpone a presidential election by ten months, which prompted the political and economic bloc of West Africa to demand the restoration of the election schedule, three opposition politicians from Senegal were taken into custody.
Lawmakers passed an emergency amendment extending President Macky Sall’s mandate, which has prompted nationwide demonstrations and international concern.
The amendment called for holding the referendum on December 15 rather than February 25.
The spokesperson for dissolved opposition party Pastef, El Malick Ndiaye, said that three lawmakers from the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi had been arrested over the course of the Tuesday.
A former police captain was also detained, he added.
One of those arrested, Guy Marius Sagna, was among the MPs who tried to physically block Monday’s vote from happening in parliament by blocking the dais.
The surprise postponement has dismayed those who thought Senegal would stick to a standard electoral course, something that has become increasingly uncommon in West Africa, where ECOWAS is grappling with the fallout from a string of military takeovers in other countries in recent years.
The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday expressed deep concern with the postponement of the election, saying the move ran “contrary to Senegal’s strong democratic tradition.”
The streets of Dakar were quiet on Tuesday with no immediate sign of further unrest that many have warned will be the inevitable consequence of the unprecedented postponement.
Since Sall announced the delay in an address to the nation on Saturday, the authorities have cracked down on street protests in the capital, restricted mobile internet, and pulled a private TV channel off air.
“The postponement of Senegal’s presidential election puts the country on a dangerous path towards dictatorship, and must not be allowed to stand,” said U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin in a statement.