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Calgary protesters believe democracy is under attack in Senegal


Senegal is considered one of Africa's most stable nations - but president Macky Sall’s decision to delay the election is creating unrest and that's worrying members of Calgary's Senegalese community.

They rallied at Calgary City Hall Saturday afternoon to call attention to the events happening in their homeland.

Sall's second term mandate ends April 2, 2024 but he cancelled the February 25 election citing a dispute between parliament and the constitutional council over potential candidates barred from running and claims to be worried that the country will see a return to the violence Senegal experienced in 2021 and 2023.

Parliament backed the suspension of the election until December 15, but only after security forces stormed the National Assembly and detained some opposition lawmakers.

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean coastline. It is bordered by Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.

Its capital city is Dakar and its official language is French.

The protesters in Calgary carried signs reading “Democracy is under attack in Senegal” and “Free Political Prisoners”.

Many of the placards displayed photos of some of the 1,500 people they claim Sall has imprisoned without cause.

“It’s a climate of terror that we cannot accept we have fought for our independence we have fought for our freedom  and we’re going to keep fighting against Macky Sall so on April 2 his time is up ,” said rally organizer Ousseynaou Diagne.

They say Sall’s decision to cancel the election is how he is trying to hold onto power. 

Diagne added that the Senegalese people were grateful for the support of the Canadian government. “We appreciate the position the Canadian government has taken so far because we are aware of the statement the Canadian government has released asking president Macky Sall to respect the electoral process the constitutional electoral process.”

“We have a long tradition of democracy,” Diagne said. “We cannot stand here and let one president, or one guy, just put all our freedom under his feet. We cannot.”

There are about 500 Senegalese families living in Calgary.

With files from Alesia Fieldberg Top Stories

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