Senegal Opposition Plans Mass Protests Against Wade

Posted January 30th, 2012 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A Senegalese opposition movement has called for nationwide protests against President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial bid for a third term.

A group of opposition and civic organizations, known as M23, says it will stage the peaceful rallies on Tuesday to pressure Mr. Wade to withdraw from the February 26 presidential polls.

Late Sunday, Senegal's constitutional court ruled the 85-year-old president can seek a third term. An initial ruling on the matter Friday sparked riots in parts of the West African country.

The constitution limits the president to two terms, but Mr. Wade argued the rule does not apply to him because it was not in effect when he took office in 2000.

The United States is expressing concern about the deepening political dispute. Speaking in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State William Burns said President Wade's decision to run again may undermine Senegal's “spirit of democracy” and threaten its long record of political stability.

Meanwhile, France has raised concern about the arrest Saturday of M23 spokesman Alioune Tine.

An official with the movement told VOA on Monday it is unclear where Tine is or why he is being held.

Separately, the constitutional court on Sunday rejected an appeal by music icon Youssou N'dour to allow him to run for president.

The court said N'dour is ineligible to enter the race because he did not turn in enough valid signatures on his petition.