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Senegal panel suggests delayed polls be held in June to end crisis

SENEGAL’S National Dialogue Commission will propose a delayed presidential election be held on June 2 and recommend President Macky Sall remain in office until his successor is sworn in, commission member Ndiawar Paye said on Tuesday.

The West African nation, set to become an oil and gas producer by the end of the year, has been thrown into an unprecedented political crisis after Sall postponed the election initially scheduled for February 25.

The date proposal follows two days of dialogue organised by Sall as a way to ease tensions. His and parliament’s failed bid to postpone the February 25 poll by 10 months sparked unrest and warnings of democratic backsliding in one of coup-hit West Africa’s more stable democracies.

The recommendation will be sent to Sall who will make the final decision, Paye told Reuters.

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Speaking by phone, he said it was not known if Sall would accept the recommendation, but his decision could come on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The talks in the capital Dakar were boycotted by many of the opposition some of whom want the vote to be held before Sall’s mandate expires on April 2.

Paye said the commission agreed that early June was the most feasible time for the vote. “The month of May has a number of religious festivals, so the elections could not be held then,” he said.

It was not immediately clear how the opposition would respond to the proposed date. Its successful legal challenge of the original postponement led the top constitutional authority to rule the delay unlawful and ask Sall to find a new date as soon as possible.

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By NGOUDA DIONE and PORTIA CROWE

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