Senegal Opposition Calls for Fresh Anti-Wade Protests

Posted February 17th, 2012 at 2:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Senegalese opposition groups are calling for fresh protests Friday against President Abdoulaye Wade's decision to run for a third term, despite continued police attempts to thwart the demonstrations.

On Thursday, riot police fired tear gas to disband activists attempting to stage an unauthorized permanent sit-in at a central square in the capital, Dakar. Police also clashed Wednesday with hundreds of protesters who tried to march to the presidential palace.

Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom has defended the government ban on protests, calling them “seditious” and “criminal.” He says explosives and weapons seized at some of the rallies show that the protesters intend to use violence.

The protesters want President Wade to step down ahead of the country's elections on February 26. They say Mr. Wade is ineligible to run for a third term because of a constitutional two-term limit.

A court ruled two weeks ago that the limit did not apply to Mr. Wade because it took effect after he was first elected in 2000. The ruling sparked riots across the West African country that have killed at least four people.

Mr. Wade has continued campaigning energetically, despite smaller than usual crowds. In some cases, protesters have even pelted the president's car with rocks and spread cow's blood at the site of his speeches.

Thirteen candidates are competing against Mr. Wade in the February 26 vote, including his former allies Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck. A run-off will be held if no one wins a majority. But many observers say a run-off is not likely, since no opposition frontrunner has yet emerged.