Wade Faces Protests on Campaign Trail

Posted February 8th, 2012 at 9:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade took his controversial campaign for another term on the road Wednesday, holding a rally in a town where opposition support is strong.

The president's convoy faced rock-throwing protesters as it drove the 70 kilometers from the capital to Thies. At the rally site, thousands of supporters wearing Mr. Wade's Democratic Party blue came to cheer him on. But the crowd was much smaller than those he once attracted as a longtime opposition leader.

The 85-year-old Mr. Wade has faced violent opposition to his bid for a third term, despite a two-term limit. Last month, a court agreed that the limit did not apply to him because it came into effect after he was first elected in 2000.

On Tuesday, the president summoned the U.S. ambassador to Senegal after local media published an interview in which he criticized President Wade's bid for a third term.

Ambassador Lewis Lukens told local journalists that President Wade has compromised the elections and threatened the security of the country by insisting on running for a third term in the February 26 presidential election.

The U.S. State Department also has urged Mr. Wade to allow power to pass “to the next generation,” prompting complaints of foreign intervention by Mr. Wade's government.

Thirteen candidates are competing against Mr. Wade, including his former allies, Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck. A run-off will be held if no one wins more than half of the total vote.