News / Africa

AU/ECOWAS Call for Compromise in Senegal Presidential Vote

Riot policemen stand in a row to block access to Independence Square during an opposition demonstration against Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial third term bid for presidency in Dakar February 24, 2012.
Riot policemen stand in a row to block access to Independence Square during an opposition demonstration against Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial third term bid for presidency in Dakar February 24, 2012.
Anne Look

People in Senegal go to the polls Sunday amid uncertainty and continued calls from the opposition for elections to be postponed and incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, to withdraw his candidacy. The African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS are proposing that, if re-elected, Mr. Wade serve an abbreviated two-year mandate before fresh elections are organized.

Just hours before polls open, Senegal remains in political gridlock.

On one side is the opposition M23 movement, which is calling for a delay and the withdrawal of President Wade's candidacy. On the other is Mr. Wade, who has remained defiant in the face of weeks of street protests and says elections will proceed as planned.

Former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has proposed a controversial compromise to the pre-electoral discord which he says risks propelling the historically stable West African country into "chaos, tragedy and disaster."

"We have heard, and that has not been in doubt, that even the president had indicated that if he wins the election he will consider utilizing three years of the term. Then, we have heard, also talking to the opposition group, that they will not want to allow anything more than one year. So we said to ourselves if one side is talking of one year and the other side is talking of three years, we should stay in the middle and take an average. We suggested in our proposal two years," he said.

The former Nigerian leader arrived in Dakar Tuesday at the helm of a joint AU/ECOWAS election observation mission attempting to ease tensions following weeks of violent, anti-government protests that have killed at least six people.

Mr. Obasanjo is also proposing that the opposition be allowed to appoint a technician to join the existing electoral team, as he said there have been "rumors of manipulation." He would not elaborate on whether the mission had deemed current conditions conducive to a fair and transparent vote.

Mr. Obasanjo said late Saturday that neither side has agreed to the proposed compromise.

The opposition M23 Movement says Mr. Wade's bid for a third term is unconstitutional, citing a reform he signed into law in 2001 that limits presidents to two terms. The presidentially-appointed Constitutional Court ruled last month that reform did not apply retroactively to his first term.

The decision sparked the riots during which protestors throwing rocks and erecting fiery barricades clashed with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

The M23 movement, which includes several opposition candidates, has proposed that elections be postponed by six to nine months and held without Mr. Wade and under the supervision of a new electoral commission.

Opposition candidate and a leader of the M23 movement, Cheikh Bamba Dieye, says they support dialogue and peace. He says he knows that Senegalese want them to accept compromise in the name of peace, but not just any compromise. He says the M23 movement has been fighting for the respect of the constitution and the withdrawal of Wade's candidacy.

The 85-year-old incumbent faces 13 opposition candidates, many of whom did not stay in Dakar with the protest movement. Rather, frontrunners like former prime ministers, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse, campaigned nationwide and have called for the election to go forward as planned.

Critics of Mr. Obasanjo's eleventh-hour proposal say it accepts Mr. Wade's victory as a foregone conclusion.

Spokesman for candidate Macky Sall, Seydou Gueye, says they are not of a mind to compromise, negotiate or make deals. He says they will defend their institutions and the constitution without concession. He says Africa must emerge from this pattern of negotiation and power-sharing and act within the law. He says the law should be fair and apply to everyone, including President Wade.

Despite rising tension, campaigning wrapped up quietly Friday in Dakar. Indeed, police had not fired tear gas on demonstrators downtown since Mr. Obasanjo's arrival on Tuesday.

Still, Mr. Obasanjo said there remains an alarming "lack of trust" between the opposition and the ruling party. "We believe that even when the election is won, by whoever wins it, there will still be the need to win peace and win security and bring this country together for progress to be made," he said.

The volatile campaign season has put international observers on high alert. There are concerns that the president's desire to stay in power could send this celebrated democracy down the path of its coup and conflict-stricken neighbors.

U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon has expressed "concern" over the poll and called for a "peaceful, orderly and transparent" election.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
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