Senegal Police Break up anti-Wade Rally, One Killed

Posted February 1st, 2012 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Senegalese officials say at least one person was killed Tuesday as riot police armed with tear gas and water cannons clashed with protesters calling for 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade to give up his controversial bid for a third term.

Hundreds of thousands of Senegalese, mostly young people, staged what was to be a peaceful demonstration Tuesday in the capital of Dakar. But, by nightfall protests had turned violent as students threw stones at police and burned tires and riot troops responded.

Witnesses and officials say a 30-year-old student died after being run over by a truck during the protests. Police deny the incident involved a police vehicle.

Protesters are criticizing last week's high court decision sanctioning Mr. Wade's bid to run for a third term. A constitutional amendment limits presidents to just two terms, but Mr. Wade was first elected before the amendment was in place.

The court ruling has sparked riots across the West African country that have killed at least four people.

The protesters say Mr. Wade is attempting a “constitutional coup d'etat.” Many protesters, including Bibi Camera, say a third term by Mr. Wade will make the country ungovernable.

“I am here because of our president. He is taking us for a ride. We don't want him anymore. If he doesn't listen, we will try to take him out of the palace because we are so sick of it.”

The United Nations on Tuesday expressed concern about the growing tensions in Senegal ahead of the election, set for February 26th. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all sides to exercise restraint and pursue peaceful means to resolve electoral grievances.

On Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said President Wade's decision to run for another term may undermine Senegal's “spirit of democracy” and could threaten its long record of political stability.