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Riots in Senegal as Wade gets green light for third presidential term

Reuters/Joe Penney

Riot police cordoned off streets in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, on Saturday after a night of violent riots that erupted when a court cleared octogenarian President Abdoulaye Wade to seek a third term. Following the move, protesters vowed to force him from power. 


Violence erupted late Friday after the west African nation's Constitutional Council gave Wade the go-ahead to run in 26 February polls, sparking anger among opponents who accuse him of fiddling with the constitution.

Rioters engaged in running battles with police, overturning and torching cars, setting alight tyres and shops along the city's main arteries.

The five-judge council unveiled a list of 14 contenders but rejected the candidacy of music icon Youssou Ndour, who warned of rising tension in the country and vowed to challenge his disqualification.

Ndour, who announced this month he was quitting singing for politics, was left off the list with the council saying the thousands of signatures he provided could not be verified. A minimum of 10,000 were needed.

The June 23 Movement of opposition against Wade's candidacy, which called Friday's rally, appealed to Senegalese to march on the presidential palace in downtown Dakar to "remove Wade who is squatting there."

Amid the resulting unrest, Wade told his opponents to stop throwing "temper tantrums".

The ruling ends months of speculation over the interpretation of the constitution on presidential mandates.

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. He again revised the text in 2008, reverting to a seven-year mandate, renewable once.

Wade argued that the law does not apply retroactively and that he is allowed to run again.

The Constitutional Council approved 13 other candidates including three ex-prime ministers, Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse, and main opposition leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng.

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