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Demonstrators barricade a street at the Nation Square to stage a protest against the postponement of the presidential election in Dakar, Senegal. /CFP

Senegalese civil society groups, presidential candidates reject Sall’s call for dialogue

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16 of the 19 candidates in Senegal’s presidential election have refused a dialogue proposed by President Macky Sall while a coalition of about 40 Senegalese civil society groups have also declined the same offer.

In a televised interview on Thursday night, Sall, who has served the constitutional limit of two terms in power, confirmed he will step down as president on April 2, but did not announce a new election date. He also admitted that it was highly unlikely that the delayed election would be held before then.

Sall also said he cannot issue a decree to hold the election before a national dialogue takes place

However, opposition and civil society groups have refused to accept the announcement which many hoped would ease tensions within the country, regarded as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

“We oppose any dialogue on this issue and we demand that a date be set before April 2,” Boubacar Camara, one of the presidential candidates, told journalists.

Separately, a civil society coalition named Aar Sunu Election (Protect Our Election) termed the call for dialogue as “unacceptable” and claimed that the invitation was an “attempt at diversion”.

Senegal was plunged into a political crisis after Sall announced a decision to postpone the elections set for February 25. Senegal’s parliament subsequently adopted a bill delaying the election until December 15 this year.

The crisis resulted in deadly protests countrywide which have killed at least three people so far.

Last week, Senegal’s Constitutional Council, the country’s top court, ruled that parliament’s adoption of the bill delaying the election was unconstitutional.

Sall said he accepted the judgment and vowed to schedule an election as soon as possible.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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