News / Africa

Senegal Opposition Searching for Consensus Candidate

Crowds watch two dancers at an opposition rally in Ziguinchor, the regional capital of Senegal's southern Casamance province on Saturday, May 14
Crowds watch two dancers at an opposition rally in Ziguinchor, the regional capital of Senegal's southern Casamance province on Saturday, May 14
Julia Ritchey

Opposition parties in Senegal are looking for a consensus candidate to challenge President Abdoulaye Wade in elections early next year.

Toward that end, hundreds of people gathered for a large and noisy opposition rally in Ziguinchor, the regional capital of the southern Casamance region.

Called “Benno Siggil Senegal” - or “Unite to Empower Senegal” - the opposition coalition featured speakers railing against what they call the failed policies of President Wade.

The rally attracted more than 30 opposition groups, including several former members of Wade’s party and the socialist regime that preceded him. The goal of the meeting was to begin to field possible candidates who could unite the fragmented opposition and run a viable campaign against the president.

Among the half-dozen politicians present, it is still unclear who might fill this role. Though the 84-year-old president’s popularity has faded over his 10-year rule, he retains much support in the capital Dakar.

Wade says he intends to run in next February's election, though many political observers believe he is preparing his son Karim to succeed him. The president says his son has as much right to run for president as anyone else in Senegal and believes that he would be a strong candidate. He currently is the minister of state for international cooperation.

At the Ziguinchor rally, 27-year-old opposition supporter Alassane Diallo said he has had enough of the president and his son.

Diallo said it’s a matter of Wade doing whatever he feels like. Diallo said there are no checks and balances on the president’s power like one finds in other countries, and ministers are making outlandish salaries.

Diallo said he has voted for Wade in the past, but said that now the time for change is long overdue.

Many politicians at the event also spoke of the insecurity that has plagued the Casamance for 30 years. Separatists have been fighting for the independence of the agricultural region since 1982. There have been a series of cease-fires, but renewed violence over the past year has set back a once-thriving tourist trade.

Political leader Amath Dansokho of the Party for Work and Independence spoke to the rally’s boisterous crowd of young and old, saying a new government would be the region’s best chance at peace.

Dansoko said peace will never come to Casamance as long as Wade is in power. Because of the president, Dansokho said, everyday the prices of food and fuel go up and taxes go up.

Though he did not address the crowd, the former mayor of Ziguinchor, Robert Sagna, appeared to garner the loudest and most prolonged applause.

Voulymata Badji sat in a plastic chair at the edge of the crowd. She would like to see Sagna run because she said he did much for Ziguinchor before being voted out of office when President Wade came to power.

Badji said Sagna is in her heart. She said he would do well to represent the Casamance region, which has long felt ignored.

Whoever emerges as the candidate of the opposition coalition will not be running just against Wade. Former ruling-party prime ministers Idrissa Seck and Macky Sall have both launched independent presidential campaigns, as well.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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