News / Africa

Dakar Tense Ahead of Senegal Elections Ruling

Senegalese anti-government youth rally against President Wade in Dakar, Jan. 27 2012.
Senegalese anti-government youth rally against President Wade in Dakar, Jan. 27 2012.

Despite a government-issued ban on public demonstrations ahead of the Constitutional Court’s decision on who can run for president next month, rallies are taking place throughout Dakar.

In the face of unrelenting opposition, Senegal backed down from its five-day ban on demonstrations surrounding President Abdoulaye Wade’s controversial bid for a 3rd term.

The main rally started with a prayer. In lieu of a mosque, hundreds prostrated themselves for the Friday prayer in Dakar's Place d'Obelisque.

The M23 opposition movement has been waiting for the high court to decide on President Wade's candidacy, and it has not mobilized supporters on such a scale since the June 23rd protests, for which the group is named. On that day, mass demonstrations forced Wade to withdraw a constitutional referendum that would have all but guaranteed February reelection.

Imam Chérif Mballo, who led the prayer, hopes it will help the opposition movement score another victory over Wade.

"If the prayer proves effective and Wade renounces his candidacy, that would be extraordinary," says Mballo via interpreter. "But if he doesn't renounce, action must accompany the prayer, because, without action, the prayer cannot succeed."

The 85-year-old president is seeking a third term despite a limit of two that he signed into law in 2001, after his first election. He now says the law does not apply retroactively and that it is up to the constitutional council -- not the opposition -- to decide.

The court's decision is expected before its deadline of midnight Friday. In addition to Wade, the court, which comprises five presidentially-appointed jurists, will decide the candidacies of more than 20 hopefuls, including Grammy award winner Youssou N'Dour, who made an appearance at Friday's rally.

"History will be written in Senegal on Friday and they will not accept anything except the meaning of the constitution," says N'Dour via interpreter. "He believes it is very clear and Wade doesn't have the right to seek a third term."

Though the mood is hopeful, it is also tense. Most in Senegal and the international community believe the court will confirm Wade as a candidate.

Abdoul Lo, a Senegalese political analyst, fears an affirmative decision would threaten the most stable democracy in the region.

"We’ve seen what happened in Cote d’Ivoire months and months ago, and some people fear that this may happen again in a country that has a very long history of democracy," says Lo.

President Wade has said he needs at least three more years to finish important projects that he has started, but M23 says he has to leave office now.

Both await the council's decision.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs