A court in Senegal has sentenced two lawmakers to six months in jail for assaulting a pregnant colleague on December 1 during an acrimonious parliamentary session that degenerated into a full-blown brawl.
During a budget presentation on Thursday, opposition member of parliament Massata Samb walked over and slapped Amy Ndiaye Gniby of the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition, setting off a flurry of scuffles.
Gniby threw a chair back at Samb before another MP tackled her to the floor and was then kicked in the abdomen by Niang.
The session was suspended as politicians traded blows, accusations and insults.
This is coming following tensions between ruling and opposition politicians since a July legislative election in which the ruling party lost its comfortable majority, damaged in part by concerns President Macky Sall will seek a third term in 2024.
Sall has refused to state clearly whether he plans to run for a third term, a move the opposition says would be in breach of term limits and an earlier promise.
Supporters of Sall, aged 60, argue a constitutional reform reset the clock, allowing him to run again.
Another scuffle broke out in September when parliament convened for the first time after the election as legislators fought over leadership of the house.
Samb on Thursday was addressing the assembly about comments Gniby made over the weekend in which she criticised a spiritual leader opposed to a third Sall term.
“Mister President, a deputy has stood in front of this tribune to insult someone’s marabout [spiritual leader],” said Samb.
Gniby scoffed at his remarks and declared she did not care, after which Samb walked over and hit her.
In a ruling on Monday, the Dakar court also ordered the men, Amadou Niang and Massata Samb of the opposition Party for Unity and Rally (PUR) to pay a total of 5 million CFA francs ($8,144) in compensation to lawmaker Amy Ndiaye Gniby of the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition.
The fight has worsened political tensions in Senegal that flared when the governing party lost its comfortable majority in a July legislative election.
The loss was widely seen as a rebuke of President Macky Sall amid uncertainty over whether he will seek a third term in 2024, a move the opposition says would be in breach of term limits and an earlier promise.
Sall, 60, has refused to state clearly whether he plans to run again.