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Senegal cuts internet access during debate on bill that could extend president's tenure
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Senegal’s government restricted mobile internet access on Monday as opposition leaders and supporters protested President Macky Sall’s decision to postpone the Feb. 25 presidential election due to an electoral dispute.

Lawmakers were set to debate a bill recommending a delay of up to six months, potentially pushing the election to August, four months after Sall’s tenure ends.

This would be the first time Senegal’s presidential election is postponed. Protests that started on Sunday were expected to continue after opposition leaders condemned the postponement as a “constitutional coup.”

The Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy stated that the internet was cut “due to the dissemination of several hateful and subversive messages on social networks in the context of threats and disturbances to public order.”

Sall cited a dispute between the judiciary and parliament over the disqualification of some candidates and the reported dual nationality of some qualified candidates as reasons for the postponement.

Senegal has been experiencing political tensions for at least a year, including deadly clashes among opposition supporters and the disqualification of two opposition leaders who were deemed ineligible by the country’s highest election authority.

In June last year, Senegalese authorities also cut mobile phone internet access when supporters of disqualified opposition leader Ousmane Sonko clashed with security forces.

Analysts warn that the crisis in Senegal could further destabilize West Africa, which is already grappling with a recent surge in coups and threats to democratic institutions.

Piers Potter

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