Post claiming to show election delay protests in Senegal uses old video


Senegal was plunged into crisis after parliament backed President Macky Sall’s decision to delay the election by 10 months. The move sparked international concern over a possible democratic decline in a country normally seen as a beacon of stability in West Africa.  Users in Nigeria shared a video alleging that it shows violent clashes in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, following the vote postponement. But the claim is false: though the footage does show unrest in Dakar, it has been online since at least March 2023.

“From the streets of Dakar #FreeSenegal,” reads a post published on X on February 5, 2024.

<span>A screenshot of the false post, taken on February 6, 2024 </span>

A screenshot of the false post, taken on February 6, 2024

Liked more than 1,000 times, the post was published by an account that frequently shares anti-Western content, referring to the Senegalese president as a “French puppet”.

Senegal gained independence from France in 1960 and has never experienced a coup, making it a rare outlier in coup-hit West Africa.

But on February 3, President Macky Sall announced a delay to the February 25 elections, just hours before campaigning began.

Senegalese lawmakers confirmed the decision shortly after, paving the way for Sall to remain in office until his successor is installed, despite growing concern about the erosion of democracy in the country. AFP has been covering the story (archived here).

The post includes a 27-second long video showing individuals throwing projectiles as uniformed men shoot gas canisters into the crowd.

“They can’t fall. If someone falls, they’re dead. Pay attention, pay attention,” says a man speaking in French behind the camera.

Most comments are in English and come from accounts based in Nigeria and South Africa, calling for similar protests in their own countries.

“It will still come…Nigeria, get ready it is obviously inevitable the time to take back our country has reaped (sic),” reads one comment.

“Well done to the Senegalese for not allowing a tyrant and stooge of imperialism to have his way,” says another.

Although violent street protests did rock Dakar after Sall’s announcement (archived here), the video is old.

2023 video

Using a reverse image search, AFP Fact Check found a French-language post from March 18, 2023, that includes the same clip used in the false post (archived here).

<span>A comparison of the March 2023 post (left) with the false post (right) </span><span>A comparison of the March 2023 post (left) with the false post (right) </span>

A comparison of the March 2023 post (left) with the false post (right)

“The Senegalese people will stay strong in the face of the APR thugs,” reads the French caption.

APR refers to the Alliance for the Republic, the country’s ruling political party founded by Sall (archived here).

AFP Fact Check is still investigating the original context of the video, but determined clashes did take place in the country on March 16, 2023 (archived here).

Video shows Dakar

Using geolocation techniques, AFP Fact Check confirmed the video was filmed in Dakar.

At 0’24’’, a sign reading “Kane” is visible on one of the buildings.

<span>A screenshot of the video used in the false post, taken on February 6, 2024 </span><span>A screenshot of the video used in the false post, taken on February 6, 2024 </span>

A screenshot of the video used in the false post, taken on February 6, 2024

Using a keyword search, AFP Fact Check found a grocery store in downtown Dakar called Kane.

An April 2023 Google Street View image of the “Kane American Grocery Store” shows the same building seen in the false post (archived here).

<span>A comparison of the video seen in the false post (left) and Google Maps (right) </span><span>A comparison of the video seen in the false post (left) and Google Maps (right) </span>

A comparison of the video seen in the false post (left) and Google Maps (right)

Instability in West Africa

The international community has expressed concern over democratic decline in West Africa, where Senegal is often viewed as a stronghold of stability.

Neighbouring Mali, as well as Burkina Faso and Niger, are all led by military regimes following coups in recent years.

Both Burkina Faso and Mali were supposed to hold elections later this year, but the military authorities want to extend the “transition” periods, citing the insecurity engendered by jihadist unrest (archived here).

Nigeria held an election in 2023 but opposition candidates challenged President Bola Tinubu’s win, saying the vote was marred by fraud and voting irregularities (archived here).

The election sparked a wave of disinformation and anger in Africa’s most populous country.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Nigeria in January as part of a plan to battle instability in the region (archived here).



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