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Senegal

Senegal opposition in call for popular resistance to Wade

Reuters/Joe Penney

Senegal's opposition has called for popular resistance against President Abdoulaye Wade following violence after a top court said the octogenarian could run for a third term.

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Local rights bodies and the international community have called for calm as the opposition vowed to "remove Wade who is squatting" in the presidential palace in downtown Dakar.

Riots began late Friday after the west African nation's Constitutional Council gave Wade, 85, the green light to run in 26 February polls, infuriating opponents who accuse him of fiddling with the constitution. Seven presidential candidates are reported to have filed challenges to Wade's bid.

Meanwhile, police arrested Alioune Tine, a senior member of Senegal's June 23 Movement, M23, opposition movement and dozens of others, activists said, in the wake of the riots in which a policeman was killed.

"He is still at the Criminal Investigation Division," said Iba Sar, a colleague at the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, RADDHO, a local rights body where Tine is secretary general.

Riot police cordoned off streets around the presidency on Saturday after a night of what local newspapers dubbed "fire and blood" when a mass rally ignited with anger after the announcement.

Macky Sall, a former prime minister under Wade who is also running in the election, blamed the president for the violence.

"These deplorable events were a result of the fact that Abdoulaye Wade decided to confiscate the will of the Senegalese people through this electoral coup which is under way," Sall said.

When Wade was elected in 2000 for a seven-year mandate there was no term-limit in the constitution. He was re-elected in 2007 after introducing the two-term limit and reducing the mandate to five years.

He again revised the text in 2008, reverting to a seven-year mandate, renewable once. Wade argues that the law is not retroactive so he is entitled to two fresh terms from 2012, but the opposition disagrees.

 

 

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