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Senegal's Wade Expected to Face Tough Run-off Vote


Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade during a press conference at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, February 27, 2012.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade during a press conference at the presidential palace in Dakar, Senegal, February 27, 2012.

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade is expected to face a tough run-off vote against former prime minister Macky Sall, who is working to round up opposition support.

A group of Senegalese opposition leaders began talks Wednesday in the capital, Dakar, to discuss forming an alliance aimed at defeating the 85-year-old incumbent.

Wade has admitted he fell short of the 50 percent of the votes needed in Sunday's poll to avoid a runoff. Provisional results show he has more than 30 percent of the vote, and Sall is trailing him by roughly seven points.

Final results are expected on Friday and a run-off election is scheduled for March 18.

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, one of eleven other presidential candidates, said opposition leaders want to unite with civil society groups to oust Wade.

"Wednesday night, we will discuss to see if Macky Sall is ready to agree on what I call a citizen republican front, a national front, to get rid of Wade and his regime."

Gadio also predicted that President Wade will have a difficult time convincing opposition supporters to back his controversial bid for a third term.

Critics say President Wade's run defies a constitutional law he approved in 2001 limiting presidents two terms.

The presidentially-appointed Constitutional Court ruled last month the reform did not apply to Wade because it came into effect while he was already in office.

Wade's bid for a third term triggered weeks of demonstrations that killed at least six people.

Wade was first elected president in 2000, and re-elected in 2007.

Anti-government riots began in June, after the ruling party moved to create the post of vice president and lower the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election.

The president's opponents said the moves were aimed at making it easier for Wade to be re-elected, and for his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him. The proposals were later dropped.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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