Senegal’s Opposition Calls for Protest Against President

Posted January 28th, 2012 at 9:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Senegal’s opposition has called for popular resistance against President Abdoulaye Wade to prevent him from running for a third term.

In a statement Saturday, Senegal’s June 23 Movement, representing all the major opposition candidates, said the court’s decision Friday to allow the incumbent president to run again is illegal.

The opposition announced street protests asking the 85-year president to step down.

Mr. Wade’s decision to run for a third term has sparked riots in the capital Dakar in which one policeman has been killed.

Police have arrested Alioune Tine, a senior member of the so-called M23 coalition along with many others.

Senegal’s capital Dakar was covered with debris after Friday riots, and some residents say it will get worse.

“They should expect it to be worse than the June 23 protest, because starting from tomorrow onwards, our youth – what we call our youth forces – will position themselves here in the street. It’s unacceptable.”

Police patrols have been reinforced in Dakar and other Senegalese cities.

Several new candidates filed challenges to President Wade’s bid Saturday. Abdoulahmane Sarr at 43 is one of the youngest. After submitting his bid, he told VOA Saturday that he was optimistic.

“We have no choice but to be positive. We have done everything we can to offer the opportunity to Senegalese people to vote for a competent, engaged youthful politician who offers solutions that they need. There is no reason that we should be rejected after collecting 12,454 signatures of support.”

Several candidates whom the court rejected are appealing the decision. Among them is Senegalese pop star Youssou N’Dour.

As it currently stands, the centrist Mr. Wade will face Socialist Party leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng and three ex-prime ministers – Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse – in the election, scheduled for February 26.

Mr. Wade was elected president in 2000 and re-elected in 2007.

Anti-government riots paralyzed Dakar in June after the ruling party tried to create the post of vice president and lower the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election.