Members of the Young Christian Students of Senegal (JEC/S) are displeased with acts of violence that have resulted in the death of innocent citizens amid protests against the February 3 decision of President Macky Sall to postpone the presidential poll that had been scheduled to take place on February 25.

On February 10, clashes between security forces and protesters were recorded in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, and other cities of the West African nation, leading to the death of two students, Reuters reported.

In a collective statement issued on Tuesday, February 13, JEC/S members express deep concern at the “current situation in our country, following the decision of the President of the Republic to postpone the date of the presidential election.”

They lament, “We are saddened by this visible climate of violence and tension, which has resulted in the loss of human life, particularly that of Alpha Yoro Tounkara, a student at Gaston Berger University, and Landing Diedhiou, a student at the Lycée Djignabo in Ziguinchor; young people in the prime of their lives, representing the future of this country.”

“As a Catholic action movement working in schools and universities, we strongly condemn these acts of violence and tragic deaths,” the Catholic students say.

They add about the two students, who lost their lives, “We bow our heads before their memories and pray for the repose of their souls, while offering our sincere condolences to their families but also to the entire university community.”

The Catholic students call for a “thorough and impartial investigation into the events that led to the deaths of these young people so that those responsible for these tragedies can be held to account.”

They also urge the Senegalese authorities to “listen to the legitimate demands of the people, and to work towards an inclusive and quality dialogue to find solutions to the problems afflicting our society.”

Tension has been mounting in Senegal following the Constitutional Council’s decision to exclude several candidates from the election, including opposition figures Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade.

In July 2023, President Sall announced that he would not be seeking re-election in the Presidential elections.

On February 3, President Sall announced the postponement of the presidential elections previously scheduled to take place on February 25, citing “controversies over the disqualification of some candidates and allegations of corruption in election-related cases,” according to Africa News.

The Senegalese President, who did not indicate a new date for the poll has been quoted as saying, “For my part, my solemn commitment not to run in the presidential election remains unchanged, finally, I will engage in an open national dialogue to bring together the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election.”

In their February 13 statement, JEC/S members make an “urgent appeal for calm, peace, and dialogue to all stakeholders.”

“May demonstrations remain peaceful, and may the forces of law and order supervise this exercise of our most fundamental rights, by the law,” they say.

The Catholic students continue, “To build together the Senegal of our dreams, a prosperous Senegal united despite our diversity, we must unite our hearts and minds. We must bequeath to future generations a country where peace and stability reign.”

“We join our prayers to those of all men and women of goodwill for social cohesion and political stability in our country,” JEC/S members say.

JEC/S members implore, “May the Wisdom coming from GOD awaken in each of us the desire to seek true Peace through our daily actions and choices. May Christ, our peace, grant our country all his graces, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.”

On February 4, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of the country’s Dakar Archdiocese said he was “baffled by what’s going on” in Senegal, and described President Sall’s announcement to post the presidential polls as a “technique of circumvention”.

“When there is a rule, it’s so that it can be followed, not so that we can pass to the right or the left,” Archbishop Ndiaye told journalists during the February 4 press conference.

On February 6, members of the National Laity Council (CNL) in Senegal said they did not approve of the decision to postpone the general elections.

“This unprecedented decision, which runs counter to Senegal’s legendary democratic tradition, entails real risks of instability and is a matter of grave concern for our organization,” CNL members said in a statement.

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