Senegal: Dueling Rallies For and Against President

Posted July 23rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Senegalese demonstrators gathered in the capital, Dakar, to protest against President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term.

Top opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Macky Sall, were also on hand Saturday at the demonstration in a public square outside the city center.

The protest had been originally scheduled downtown, but organizers changed the venue in an attempt to comply with a newly-imposed ban on political rallies outside government buildings and several major squares.

Mr. Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party held a rally Saturday, outside its headquarters in a northern suburb. Demonstrators there called for another five-year term for Mr. Wade.

The demonstrations come one month after the massive June 23 protests and rioting against chronic power shortages and President Wade's bid to change the constitution.

Opponents say the changes were aimed at making it easier for the president to be re-elected and for his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him.

After the massive protests, the 85-year-old leader withdrew the proposed amendments.

But Mr. Wade has indicated he still plans to run for re-election, despite a constitutional statue that limits the presidency to two terms. Mr. Wade's supporters say he is entitled to run again because the new constitution was not in effect when he was first elected president in 2000.

A businessman at the rally Saturday said opposition members are resorting to the term limit issue because they think their candidates will not win an election against Mr. Wade.