DAKARA - Senegal’s president Macky Sall said he will ask the country’s top court to choose a temporary president on April 2, the day his term ends, if an election is not held before then.

Sall made the pledge on Monday, the first of a two-day national dialogue attended by some candidates, political parties and representatives of civil society groups, Reuters reports. He called for participants at the dialogue to reach a consensus on a new date for the elections, stating that his wish is a date “before the winter.”

But the event was boycotted by at least 16 out of 19 presidential candidates who were due to contest the polls initially set for Feb. 25, including former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall (no relation to the president), and businesswoman Anta Babacar Ngom.

The dialogue follows Sall’s contentious postponement of the vote earlier this month. A session of parliament led by his ruling coalition’s MPs backed the postponement, setting a new date in December that would have seen Sall overstay his term. But a Constitutional Council judgment that Sall could not postpone the polls led the president to reverse course, pledging that he would leave office on April 2.

At Monday’s dialogue, Sall also proposed an amnesty bill for those arrested during protests that kicked off after his election postponement. Beneficiaries will also include those arrested during demonstrations in 2021 following the arrest of popular opposition figure Ousmane Sonko. The amnesty bill to be presented to parliament will “make it possible to pacify the political arena,” Sall suggested.

Sall’s dialogue was attended by some candidates disqualified by the Constitutional Council from participating in the elections. But it is not clear if Karim Wade, the son of a former president whose disqualification by the court triggered Sall’s postponement of the polls and the unfolding constitutional crisis, participated. Amadou Ba, the candidate of Sall’s ruling coalition, was in attendance, the French service Radio France reported.