New Anti-Wade Protests Held in Senegal

Posted January 31st, 2012 at 11:20 am (UTC-5)
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Demonstrations are underway in Senegal's capital, Dakar, where opposition activists are calling for President Abdoulaye Wade to give up his controversial bid for a third term.

Riot police stood by Tuesday as members of the opposition coalition known as M23 gathered at the city center for the demonstrations.

Organizers and activists at the scene told VOA they will honor the coalition's vow to keep the rally peaceful, and police at the scene said they were there simply to keep the peace.

The escalating dispute involving Mr. Wade's plan to run for president during a February 26 poll has sparked riots throughout the country in recent days. At least three people have been killed since Friday.

Senegal's constitutional court ruled Friday that the incumbent can run for a third term, even though the constitution limits presidents to two terms. President Wade argued the rule did not apply to him because it became law after he was elected.

Witnesses Tuesday describe the capital as very tense, with many people constantly monitoring news reports and largely staying away from the protest site. The government authorized the demonstration shortly before it was due to begin.

President Wade's re-election bid has raised international expressions of concern and pleas for calm.

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

In June, anti-government riots broke out in Dakar after the ruling party moved to create the post of vice president and lower the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election.

The president's opponents said the moves were aimed at making it easier for Mr. Wade to be re-elected, and for his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him. The proposals were later dropped.