Senegalese Opposition Attempt Alliance Ahead of Likely Presidential Run-Off Vote

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
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A group of Senegalese opposition leaders are meeting Wednesday to form an alliance aimed at defeating incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade in the country's likely upcoming run-off election.

Presidential candidate Cheikh Tidiane Gadio told VOA the meeting aims to unite various opposition and civil society groups around Mr. Wade's challenger, who at this point appears to be former prime minister Macky Sall.

“Wednesday night, we will discuss to see if Macky Sall is ready to agree on what I call a citizen republican front, a national front, to get rid of Wade and his regime.”

Although official election results have not yet been released, a second round of voting appears necessary because preliminary results suggest none of the 13 candidates in Sunday's election won a majority of the votes. The run-off would take place on March 18.

Gadio predicted that if a run-off does occur, President Wade would have a difficult time convincing the supporters of the other candidates to support his controversial bid for a third term.

He also dismissed rumors that Mr. Wade would strike a deal with Sall, his former prime minister, and convince him to join his future government. Gadio said such a bargain would be politically damaging because of Mr. Wade's declining popularity.

“That would be the most suicidal political move ever in history, if Macky Sall cut a deal with President Wade. I swear to God that he and President Wade would be severely defeated by the Senegalese people.”

Mr. Wade's decision to seek a third term triggered weeks of demonstrations, some of which turned violent. At least six people were killed in the protests ahead of the vote.

Opponents say Mr. Wade's bid for a third term is unconstitutional due to a reform he signed into law in 2001 that limits presidents to two terms.

The presidentially-appointed Constitutional Court ruled last month the reform did not apply to Mr. Wade because it came into effect while he was already in office.

Mr. Wade has acknowledged that the election could be headed to a run-off. Authorities have until Friday to announce the final results of the first round vote.