Student Killed in Turbulent Protests over Senegal’s Election Delay

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Geography student Alpha Yero Tounkara died amid protests at a university in the northern city of Saint-Louis on Friday, the interior ministry confirmed on Saturday.

A student has been killed in Senegal’s northern city of Saint-Louis during violent protests against the postponement of a presidential election that was planned for this month, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

Security forces and protesters clashed in Senegal’s capital Dakar and other cities on Friday, the first day of widespread unrest over the delay of a vote that many fear could lead to protracted instability.

Hundreds of demonstrators threw stones at police and set fire to tires. Anger has mounted since President Macky Sall postponed a presidential election scheduled for February 25 until December.

The Ministry of Interior and Public Security said in a statement that Geography student Alpha Yero Tounkara died on Friday amid protests at a university in Saint-Louis. It said that his death would be investigated, but denied its forces were to blame.

“The Defence and Security Forces did not intervene to maintain order on the university campus where the death occurred,” the ministry said.

It was not immediately clear if protests continued on Saturday. Further violent standoffs with security forces will add to fears of democratic retreat.

Less than three weeks before the February 25 presidential vote, parliament voted to push it back to December, sealing an extension of Sall’s mandate, which has raised concerns that one of the remaining democracies in coup-hit West Africa is under threat.

The vote in parliament took place after opposition lawmakers were forcibly removed from the chamber as the debate was ongoing.

After parliament voted, 39 lawmakers in the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi and several opposition presidential candidates filed legal challenges against the delay with the Constitutional Court.

Sall, who has reached his constitutional limit of two terms, said he delayed the vote due to disputes that he said threatened the credibility of the electoral process, but some of the opposition have denounced the move as an “institutional coup”.