Lawmakers in Senegal have elected a new speaker of parliament in a chaotic vote after opposition members attempted to disrupt the voting process.
Security forces were swiftly deployed to restore order as Amadou Mame Diop, the candidate for President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition, was elected with 83 out of 84 votes. Eighty-one out of 165 lawmakers abstained from voting.
The assembly was convening for the first time since a July election in which President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition lost its comfortable majority.
It secured only two seats more than two allied opposition coalitions. The new parliamentary session convened at 10:00 GMT on Monday with the first order of business to elect the house’s new leader. However, parties failed to reach an agreement on electoral procedure.
It soon turned to brawls and by evening tensions had engulfed the national assembly. Footage showed tussle breaking, parliamentarians pushing and shoving one another as they thronged to the floor of the assembly, while some threw plastic cans.
Senegal’s national TV reported, “The opposition did not agree on the ballots and the manner of proceeding with the election.”
The police were later called in to secure the voting process and had to forcefully remove several lawmakers who tried to seize the ballot box.
Political tension has been on the rise in Senegal, in a nation seen as one of the region’s most stable democracies.
The tension is partly fuelled by Sall’s refusal to state clearly whether he plans to run for a third mandate in 2024 in breach of term limits.
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