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Senegal: authorities restrict internet access and ban march

Protests in Senegal.   -  
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Senegalese authorities on Tuesday suspended mobile internet and banned a march against the delayed presidential elections, which were due to be held this month.

President Macky Sall's abrupt decision on February 3 to postpone the elections until later this year has sparked ongoing protests across the country, with three people reported killed.

The Aar Sunu Election ("Let's protect our election") collective, which includes some 40 civil, religious and professional groups, had called for a peaceful rally in the capital Dakar on Tuesday. Authorities then banned the march citing logistical concerns.

Organisers of the rally have now postponed it until Saturday. 

"We will postpone the march because we want to remain within the law," said Malick Diop, coordinator of the collective.

The United Nations and human rights organisations have voiced their concern about the situation in Senegal, with spokesman for the UN's Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling on authorities to respect the rights of Senegalese to demonstrate peacefully.

"We are[...] very concerned about the continuing situation in Senegal," Guterres's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "It is first of all extremely important that all Senegalese have their right to demonstrate peacefully respected," he added, calling for the situation to be "resolved through established constitutional means."

The United States and France on Tuesday urged Senegal to hold the elections as soon as possible. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken "spoke to the president of Senegal this morning to reiterate our concern about the situation there and to make quite clear that we want to see elections continue as they were scheduled – we want to see them take place as soon as possible," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

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