Senegal vote delay not ‘legitimate’, says US

The vote to delay Senegal's presidential election until December "cannot be considered legitimate", the US state department said, after the move plunged the normally stable West African nation into its worst crisis in decades.

The reaction is the most critical to date from one of Senegal's major international allies, after the delay to the February 25 poll sparked growing concern both at home and abroad.

Lawmakers voted almost unanimously in favour of the postponement on Monday night, but only after security forces stormed the chamber and removed some opposition deputies, who were unable to cast their votes.

"The United States is deeply concerned by actions taken to delay Senegal's February 25 presidential election, which run contrary to Senegal's strong democratic tradition," Matthew Miller, a US state department spokesman, said in a statement published Tuesday.

"We are particularly alarmed by reports of security forces removing by force parliamentarians who opposed a bill to delay the election, resulting in a National Assembly vote that cannot be considered legitimate given the conditions under which it took place".

The contentious vote paves the way for President Macky Sall -- whose second term was due to expire in early April -- to remain in office until his successor is installed, probably in 2025.

Opposition members have said the country has been taken "hostage" and denounced the move as a "constitutional coup".

The opposition and members of the press have reported dozens of arrests.


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