Senegal’s President Applies to Run for Third Term

Posted January 24th, 2012 at 7:45 am (UTC-5)
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Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade has formally applied to run in the country's February 26 elections, officially beginning his controversial bid for a third term.

The 85-year-old incumbent was first elected in 2000, before passage of a constitutional amendment that limits presidents to two terms. Mr. Wade argues that since he took office before the law was passed, he can run for office again.

Senegal's official news agency quoted Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye on Tuesday as saying he was “optimistic” that Mr. Wade's candidacy would be approved by the Constitutional Council, which rules on the case on Friday.

The opposition has threatened to hold mass protests if the court validates Mr. Wade's candidacy.

Last June, riots broke out in the capital, Dakar, when Mr. Wade tried to force through a bill allowing a presidential candidate to win the election with just 25 percent of the vote. The uprising forced the president to withdraw the bill.

Mr. Wade has said he will abide by the decision of the Constitutional Council.

Many observers say Senegal's opposition is fragmented and disorganized, with more than 15 candidates having so far announced their candidacies for president.

Among those running is Senegalese pop star Youssou N'Dour, who told VOA that many of his countrymen believe Mr. Wade's bid for re-election would be unconstitutional. He has called for the international community to put pressure on the president to stand down.