Senegal’s Parliament suspends a session after an opposition deputy slapped another female deputy

Senegal’s President Macky Sall – Gehad Hamdy/dpa

Senegal’s Parliament has been forced to suspend a session on the 2023 budgets after opposition MP Massata Samb slapped Amy Ndiaye Gniby of the ruling coalition Benno Book Yaakar (BBY).

Samb, a member of the opposition Yewwi Askan Wi (Free the People), used his speaking time to recall the «derogatory» comments made against religious leader Serigne Moustapha, who supports the opposition.

The ruling coalition deputy previously criticized the religious leader for opposing a possible re-election of the current president, Macky Sall, despite the fact that he could not run in 2024 after exhausting his last two terms.

Following the words of the opposition deputy during Thursday’s session, Gniby has replied in a derogatory manner that he «did not mind» having criticized Moustapha. Seconds later, Samb went to his rostrum and slapped the deputy.

Between shouts, accusations and insults, several deputies tried to impose a separation between the two to calm the situation, but shortly after Gniby threw a chair at him, although it fell on the floor next to him. Subsequently several deputies have engaged in a fight between pushing and shoving.

Political tensions in Senegal have been running high since 2021 following the arrest of main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko on charges of rape and death threats. His arrest led to anti-government protests that left at least 13 people dead and hundreds injured.

The country held on July 31 a legislative elections in which the government coalition lost its absolute majority by obtaining 82 of the 165 seats in Parliament, amid opposition criticism against Sall.