Senegal MP slaps female lawmaker, sets off parliament brawl

DAKAR, Dec 1 (Reuters) - A violent brawl broke out in Senegal's parliament on Thursday after a male opposition lawmaker slapped a female colleague in the face, television footage showed, amid growing acrimony between ruling and opposition party politicians.

During a budget presentation, 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. The session was suspended as lawmakers traded blows, accusations, and insults.

Tensions have grown 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 say would be in breach of term limits and of an earlier promise.

Supporters of Sall, 60, argue a 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 lawmakers 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.

Footage of the fight has been shared widely on social media, sparking debate about violence against women.

Reporting by Ndouda Dione and Diadie Ba Writing by Sofia Christensen Editing by Bate Felix and Conor Humphries

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