The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, has justified his postponement of the election that would see him stay in office beyond constitutional tenure, saying it is to stabilise the country.

“I am absolutely seeking nothing except to leave a country in peace and stability,” Mr Sall told Associates Press in an interview on Friday.

In his first public statement on the election postponement that has sparked nationwide protests and widespread condemnation, Mr Sall denied trying to hold on to power.

“I am completely ready to pass the baton. I have always been programmed for that,” said Mr Sall. “I don’t want to leave behind a country that will immediately plunge into major difficulties.”

Mr Sall, who assumed office in 20212 and is at the twilight of his second constitutional tenure that ends on April 2, announced on February 2 the postponement of the election scheduled for February 25.

He further blocked internet access in the country as Senegalese hit the streets in protests against election postponement.

On Monday, soldiers forced opposition lawmakers out of the National Assembly, while 105 parliament members ratified election postponement, delaying the election till December 15.

Khalifa Sall, former minister and mayor of Dakar, said the election postponement inspired by Mr Sall is a coup d’état that allows the president an illegitimate third term in office.

“It is a coup d’état that doesn’t speak its name. With the change in the law, he (President Sall) is entering a third term of office, even if it will be incomplete,” Mr Sall, one of the favourites in the presidential race, told Le Monde in an interview on Thursday.

The election postponement has generated local and international condemnation, with the U.S., EU and ECOWAS calling for an urgent solution to the lingering political crisis in the country.

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