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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid