[ 2012-02-25 ]
Senegal gripped by uncertainty on eve of election
DAKAR (AFP) - Senegal was gripped by uncertainty
Saturday on the eve of its most troubled election
since independence in which 85-year-old President
Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a controversial third
term in office.
No clear frontrunners have emerged out of 14
candidates after an election campaign marred by
violent protests which left six dead and shook the
west African nation long seen as a beacon of
stability and democracy.
The national elections commission has said it is
ready for the election, however concerns remain
over more than 450,000 voters cards which have not
been collected by some of the nation's 5.3 million
After weeks of opposition protests against Wade's
candidacy, the rapper-led youth movement "Fed Up"
urged voters not to boycott the poll, but to go
fetch their voters cards and vote massively
against the incumbent.
"The struggle must continue and will continue at
the ballot box. We have been sharpening our
weapons, your voters cards. The time has come to
use them," the movement said in a statement late
The electoral commission vice president Pape
Sambare Diop said all voters cards not collected
by Saturday "will be sealed and could not be used
in the election," national news agency APS
Among the main contenders taking on Wade in the
open electoral race are former prime ministers
Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse, and
socialist leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng.
The opposition, who feel Wade tricked his way into
running in the election, have already raised fears
he will try to steal the vote.
Wade has already served two terms in office, a
limit he introduced into the constitution.
However, he argues changes to the constitution in
2008 extending term lengths to seven years allow
him to serve two more mandates.
A decision by the country's highest legal body on
January 27 validating his candidacy sparked riots
which spread around the country with days of
consecutive clashes in downtown Dakar.
Observers say Wade needs to secure a first-round
victory while the field is still wide open as he
would fare badly in a two-horse race.
Paul Melly, an analyst with London-based Chatham
House, told AFP if Wade wins in the first round
more of the same violence could be seen.
"There is a real possibility that a declaration of
a first round Wade win could produce a further
upsurge in protest and anger on the streets; but
whether opponents could sustain a civil
disobedience campaign is less certain."
The opposition has been divided over strategy and
busy lobbying for votes individually, preventing a
massive resistance campaign from getting off the
Emerging market analyst Samir Gadio of
London-based Standard Bank said an outright Wade
win was unlikely given his drop in popularity as
he was elected with 55.9 percent in 2007 at his
The former French colony is one of the continent's
pioneer democracies which boasts an unbroken
series of elections since independence in 1960 and
is the only nation in mainland west Africa never
to suffer a coup d'etat.
However the political crisis is putting its
democratic credentials to the test and both the
United States and France have urged Wade to
Wade was first elected in 2000 to great euphoria
as he unseated the Socialist Party from 40 years
His supporters praise him for an infrastructure
boom, but his detractors say he has focused on
prestige projects while the average Senegalese
battles rising food prices and crippling power
Infuriating the opposition are signs he is lining
up his son Karim Wade to succeed him.
Despite its years of stability, much of Senegal
remains poor. The country's economy is
concentrated on fishing, tourism and groundnut
production, with limited mineral resources and a
narrow export base.
Source - AFP
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Why are this old politicians in our part of the world so power hungary? At 85yrs old what else can you do that that you nerver done it or provide for your people? Let them die or be chase out of power like the Ghadafis ,Mubaraks,Abdul saleh,samuel Doe and Saddam Hussein.
Geo, usa 2012-02-25 (09:28:41)