Three Senegal opposition lawmakers arrested after disputed vote delay

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Three Senegalese opposition lawmakers were arrested on Tuesday amid the fallout from parliament’s move to delay a presidential vote by 10 months that prompted West Africa’s economic and political bloc to call for the re-establishment of the electoral calendar.

Lawmakers late on Monday approved a last-minute amendment to hold the vote on December 15, instead of February 25, sealing an extension of President Macky Sall’s mandate that has sparked street protests and international alarm.

The spokesperson for the dissolved opposition party Pastef, El Malick Ndiaye, said via message 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 said.

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.

“Senegal has definitively sunk into dictatorship,” Ndiaye said. The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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.