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Senegal Ends Campaigning Ahead of Sunday’s Vote

  • Peter Clottey

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on campaign tour in Dakar Feb. 22, 2012.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on campaign tour in Dakar Feb. 22, 2012.

A spokesman for Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has said his decision to represent the ruling party in Sunday’s vote is non-negotiable, despite opposition protests aimed at pressuring him to relinquish power. Official campaigning is scheduled to end Friday.

Amadou Sall, a member of Wade’s re-election campaign, said the incumbent leader has expressed willingness to hold direct talks with the opposition to resolve their concerns.

“President Wade said he is open to any negotiation because President Wade is a peaceful man,” said Sall. “Since he was elected as president of Senegal, he calls the opposition anytime for a dialogue because he thinks that he doesn’t want to exercise the power alone and that it is better to hold negotiations with the opposition.”

Opposition protesters say they will continue their demonstrations against Wade’s participation in the election, as they await the outcome of the talks between a former Nigerian leader and Senegalese stakeholders.

Wade has faced violent opposition protests in his bid for a court-approved third term, despite a two-term constitutional limit. Protesters say some of them have been killed following violence they described as a police crackdown to silence dissent.

“President Wade is a candidate of a group of parties who support him and we have the majority of the Senegalese people with us, and the constitutional court said the candidacy of Wade is good. So, he is a legal candidate,” said Sall. “Now, you have the minority in the opposition who contest and who protest and the make demonstrations in just two areas in Dakar and fighting with policemen. These guys are losers”

Sall insists opposition demonstrations are unlikely to force Wade to step down and relinquish power. He predicts the president will be victorious in first round of voting.

“President Wade will invite all the opposition to participate in the government of national union. This is the position of the president,” said Sall. “Right now, we just need to go to straight to the election and the election will be done in two days.”

Sall maintained that Sunday’s vote will proceed as scheduled in spite of the opposition demonstrations.

Meanwhile, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) poll observer team, continued to holds talks with political parties and civil society and religious groups ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Obasanjo, who also heads a joint African Union (AU) and ECOWAS poll observer team, is scheduled to hold a news conference to brief the media Saturday.