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Senegal’s Leader Breaks Up Cabinet and Sets Date for Presidential Election

President Macky Sall of Senegal on Wednesday dissolved his cabinet, replaced the prime minister and rescheduled the country’s presidential election to March 24, according to a government statement. The move came weeks after Mr. Sall postponed the ballot indefinitely, throwing the country into one of its deepest political crises in recent history as many feared he might try to stay in power past his term limit.

The election, which is likely to be one of the most closely watched in Africa this year, was initially set for Feb. 25, butMr. Sall unexpectedly put it off, with no announcement of a new date. He cited an inquiry into allegations of corruption at the Constitutional Court, but political opponents and some analysts called the maneuver a constitutional coup. His decision Wednesday to set a date may allay some of the fears that he was trying to remain in office.

The political deadlock prompted alarm among Senegal’s international allies, including the United States and European countries, which have long considered the coastal West African nation of 17 million people a reliable diplomatic partner. It is also a favored recipient of aid in a part of Africa that has been convulsed by coups and where aging leaders have kept their hold on power despite constitutional limits.

The Constitutional Court, Senegal’s highest tribunal, promptly overturned Mr. Sall’s attempt to delay the election last month. Shortly after the court’s decision, the president said he would leave power on April 2, when his term will expire.

But who will lead the country between the April deadline and the swearing in of a new president remains unclear. Senegal may require a runoff election after results come in for the voting on March 24, but the government did not set a date for a runoff, nor did it specify who would govern the country in the interim.

Mr. Sall also dismissed his prime minister, Amadou Ba, according to the statement. Mr. Ba is the presidential candidate of Mr. Sall’s party, and the dismissal on Wednesday added confusion as to whether Mr. Sall still supported him.

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