Senegal’s Parliament descended into chaos on Thursday, November 1st, 2022, when Massata Samb, a member of the opposition, physically assaulted Amy Ndiaye Gniby, a female colleague and member of the ruling coalition.
In his speech to the Senegalese Parliament, Samb referred to remarks Gniby had allegedly made. He accused Gniby of mocking a spiritual leader, which he considered discourteous. “Mister President, a deputy has stood in front of this tribune to insult someone’s marabout [spiritual leader],” said Samb. Gniby responded by telling Samb that she “did not care.” This provoked Samb who charged toward Gniby and hit her on the head. Gniby, in turn, threw a chair at Samb. From that point on the legislature descended into a brawl with the members of parliament exchanging blows with each other.
The fight led to the suspension of that parliamentary session which was held to vote on the justice ministry’s 2023 budget. Pictures and video footage of the incident are online due to the parliamentary session being broadcasted on live television.
This is not the first time Senegal’s parliamentarians have been involved in a physical altercation. In September, members of the ruling coalition, the Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBK), and the opposition clashed as they disagreed over who should lead parliament.
According to the BBC, there has been palpable tension between the ruling party and the opposition in Senegal’s parliament after the former lost a massive portion of its majority in the July election. One of the reasons for the tension is the possibility that President Macky Sall might stand as a candidate in the 2024 presidential election. Sall running for president again means he would be vying for a third presidential term, which is against Senegal’s term limits. Sall’s supporters want him to run and have alleged that constitutional reform would allow him to run again. President Sall has yet to publicize his intentions.