Senegal Protest Plans Amid Democracy Crisis | DC
Opposition Parties Senegal Protest Plan to Oppose Wade’s Illegal Third Term | Democracy, elections, and voting at Democracy Chronicles
Senegal’s opposition calls for protest on despite ban
Senegal’s main opposition parties plan to protest Friday against President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid to run for a third term, defying a government ban on demonstrations and stoking fears of violence.
“The protest will take place tomorrow morning at the Place de l’Obelisque,” in Dakar, Alioune Tine, spokesman for the June 23 Movement of parties and civil society groups opposing Wade’s candidature, said Thursday.
The demonstration will be staged as the country’s Constitutional Council is due to rule whether Wade, 85, can stand again for the presidency on February 26, as he insisted Thursday he had a perfect right to do.
Some 20 presidential candidates, including Grammy-award winning singer Youssou Ndour, were expected to have submitted their candidacies to the Constitutional Council for the election by Thursday night.
The five-judge body which has the final say on constitutional matters will unveil the list of approved contenders on Friday in what rights group Amnesty International has warned is “the first moment of truth” in a tense electoral period.
Wade was first elected in 2000 for a seven-year mandate, and re-elected in 2007 under a new constitution for a five-year mandate. In 2008 the constitution was changed again to allow for two seven-year terms from 2012.
“Everybody knows the law is not retroactive,” he said in an interview published Thursday on news website Dakaractu.
“I wrote the constitution. Alone. Nobody knows it better than me,” he said, adding, “I can even legally stand again in 2019.”
Wade dismissed fears of violence, saying the opposition was “a broken record” which made empty threats.
On criticism that he should not be seeking a third term, especially at his age, he said: “I still feel physically and intellectually able to serve my people.
“I cannot stop in midstream … I need three years to complete some major projects that will turn Senegal into an emerging country.”
Analysts and rights groups have warned of a repetition of the violent riots in June last year and clashes between rival parties in December which left one person dead.
Paul Melly, Associate Fellow of the Africa Programme at the London think-tank Chatham House, said, “There is a widespread expectation that the Constitutional Council will in fact give the green light” to Wade.