Hundreds of protesters on Thursday morning demonstrated against a law to change Senegal’s electoral code due to be voted on in parliament in the capital Dakar.
The new law would require presidential candidates to be endorsed by a minimum of one percent of the electorate nationwide to be eligible to stand for election.
The minister of justice said the new rule would put an end to “constitutional and electoral manipulation.” The opposition said the move was undemocratic and anti-constitutional.
Police blocked roads leading to the national assembly in the centre of Dakar and threw tear gas at groups of protesters dispersed in the streets.
Local radio stations reported that two opposition leaders, El Hadj Malick Gackou and Idrissa Seck, were arrested on their way to the national assembly.
The former prime minister, Abdoul Mbaye, had to be evacuated when police fired tear gas at him and his supporters shouting ‘Freedom!’
Inside the assembly, an attempt by opposition members of parliament to adjourn turned into chaos after their motion was voted down by 117 votes to 26.
VOA Africa (@VOAAfrica) April 19, 2018
After the vote members of parliament walked up to the president’s stand demanding to end the session and stop the vote. The president of the assembly, Moustapha Niasse, then temporarily suspended the parliamentary session before the vote on the electoral law.