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Senegal’s president defends delaying elections in exclusive interview as protests erupt nationwide

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SAM MEDNICK

A year of efforts to cajole Senegalese President Macky Sall to give an interview to AP paid off spectacularly when his team reached out to offer Dakar correspondent Sam Mednick the president’s first on-camera interview since controversially announcing the country’s elections would be delayed just weeks before the vote.

Mednick had first asked to interview Sall one year before he was set to step down from office. When she heard about the election delay while on vacation, she decided to reach out again to see if Sall would be willing to talk. At 7 a.m. the next day, she was told that the interview would be that evening.

The interview came on a day when widespread, violent protests had erupted around the city. The team had a hard time reaching the palace, as stones and chunks of cement blocked the road leading to it. Once there, they waited nervously for two hours, before finally finding themselves in front of the president at 8 p.m. They spoke to the leader for some 40 minutes and raced back to file.

This interview is the only public window into Sall’s mindset, providing critical insight into where he stands during a tumultuous time in the country. The president and his advisor both said they have been inundated with interview requests, including from major outlets like CNN, but have refused to speak with any of them.

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