By Diadie Ba
DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegal’s security forces were called on Monday to secure a voting process in parliament and hold back rowdy opposition members of parliament (MP) who tried to disrupt the election of a new president of the national assembly.
The assembly was convening for the first time since a July election in which President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition lost its comfortable majority, securing just two seats more than two allied opposition coalitions.
The new parliamentary session convened at 1000 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.
Heated arguments ensued all day and by late evening, tensions boiled.
Senegal’s national television RTS, showed scuffles breaking, parliamentarians pushing and shoving one another as they crowded the floor of the assembly, while some threw plastic bottles.
“The opposition did not agree on the ballots and the manner of proceeding with the election,” Senegal’s national TV reported.
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 the West African 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.
(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)