Senegal Facing Fears of Post-Election Unrest

Posted February 25th, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Senegal is holding a controversial presidential election on Sunday amid fears the previously stable west African nation is facing further deadly unrest and a potential governmental crisis.

Incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade is expected to win a third term despite a change in Senegal's constitution that limits its leaders to two terms in office. It is a change that Mr. Wade himself introduced.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was sent to Senegal as part of a joint African Union-ECOWAS observation mission, has reportedly suggested Mr. Wade surrender power in two years should he win Sunday's vote.

Previously, the normal period in office for a Senegalese president was four years. But the constitutional changes enacted in 2008 extended that period to seven years.

At least six people have been killed in Senegal in protests that broke out late last month after the country's highest court ruled Mr. Wade was eligible to run again. The opposition M23 movement is vowing to continue its protests against any government headed by Mr. Wade.

The court based its decision on the fact that the two-term limit came into effect while Mr. Wade was in office.

Mr. Wade, who is 85, became Senegal's leader in 2000. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnny Carson, who is in Senegal to monitor the election, has called Mr. Wade's decision to run again “regrettable.”