Senegal Police Briefly Arrest Presidential Candidate

Posted February 17th, 2012 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Police in Senegal arrested a presidential candidate Friday, as the opposition tried to hold more protests against President Abdoulaye Wade's decision to run for a third term.

Witnesses say police arrested Cheikh Bamba Dieye as he attempted to join an unauthorized protest in the capital, Dakar.

An official with the opposition M23 movement tells VOA that Dieye was released a short time later.

Dieye, a mayor from northern Senegal, is one of 13 candidates challenging President Wade in the February 26 election.

Police have used tear gas and other forcible means to disperse illegal protests several times this week in Dakar. Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom has defended the government ban on the protests, which he said are “seditious” and “criminal.”

Opposition parties want President Wade to abandon his run for a third term, which they consider illegal. A court ruled the constitution's two-term limit does not apply Mr. Wade because he was in office before it took effect.

That ruling, two weeks ago, sparked riots in Senegal that killed four people.

Candidates challenging the president include his former allies Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck. A run-off will be held if no one wins a majority. Many observers say a run-off is not likely, because no opposition frontrunner has emerged.

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.