Senegal summoned the U.S. ambassador to Dakar on Tuesday, after local media published an interview in which he criticized President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial bid for a third term.
Ambassador Lewis Lukens told local journalists that President Wade has compromised the elections and threatened the security of the country by insisting on running for a third term in the February 26 presidential election.
The U.S. State Department has also urged Mr. Wade to allow power to pass “to the next generation,” prompting complaints of foreign intervention by Mr. Wade's government.
Violent protests broke out in the country last month after a court gave Mr. Wade the green light to seek a third term, despite a two-term limit. Mr. Wade argued the limit did not apply to him because it came into effect after he was first elected in 2000.
The 85-year-old leader held an impromptu rally through the capital late Tuesday, as the presidential election campaign officially got under way. Though several thousand people showed up to support Mr. Wade, the crowd was much smaller than those he used to attract as a longtime opposition leader.
Thirteen candidates are competing against Mr. Wade, including his former allies, Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck. A run-off will be held if no one wins more than half of the total vote.