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Senegalese Debate Whether President Too Old For Third Term

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade speaks to journalists at the end  of the 15th African Union Summit in Kampala, 27 Jul 2010
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade speaks to journalists at the end of the 15th African Union Summit in Kampala, 27 Jul 2010

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  • Professor Mamadou Diouf, director of African Studies at New York’s Columbia University spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

The director of African Studies at New York’s Columbia University has expressed shock that Senegal’s 84-year-old President, Abdoulaye Wade, is considering running for a third term in the West African country’s 2012 general elections.

Mamadou Diouf said it is impossible to understand that a man over 80 will insist on running as an incumbent seeking a second, seven-year term.

“The first version of the constitution was saying that the president should be elected for two, five-year terms. But, two or three years later, the constitution was amended and the amendment actually created the confusion people are fighting about now,” he said.

Senegal's 84- year old President, Abdoulaye Wade
Senegal's 84- year old President, Abdoulaye Wade

Mr. Wade’s opponents have questioned the rationale behind his decision and have described it as a constitutional coup d’état aimed at ensuring the president’s son is groomed to succeed him.

President Wade has denied he is grooming his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him, despite saying that his son is qualified to run as a presidential candidate in future elections.

President Wade was quoted as saying, “I have no intention of putting my son in my place before I go. But, he is a citizen of Senegal and he is free to stand in elections when he wants to.”

Professor Diouf said there are indications the Senegalese leader is grooming his son to succeed him in the near future.

“The political problem is that it seems he [President Wade] is running in order to restructure again the whole political system among the constitution to allow his son to succeed him,” Diouf said.

President Wade named his 41-year-old son as a minister in the government in May and is believed to be a close and influential adviser to the president.

Some Senegalese constitutional lawyers contend that President Wade’s second term expires in 2012 and is thus, constitutionally, barred from running again.

But, supporters of the Senegalese leader insist Mr. Wade is entitled to seek another term despite his controversial stance.

Diouf said that Mr. Wade will be too old in 2012 to either exercise the functions of a sitting president or completely finish his term of office.

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