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Senegal President Sworn in Amidst Opposition


Heads of states from around the world gathered in Senegal to attend President Abdoulaye Wade's swearing-in ceremony as second-term president. On the sidelines of ceremonial festivities were opposition parties that have boycotted the upcoming legislative election in protest of what they call election fraud. Phuong Tran has more for VOA from Dakar.

Political analyst Yoro Dia says the opposition is taking advantage of having a powerful international audience of about 20 heads of state to publicize its position.

"For Wade it is a very big blow because he is celebrating himself as a kind of, the champion of democracy," he said. "At the same time, the opposition is taking the opportunity by saying 'be careful. It is not as perfect as it [seems].' And I think it is a very good strategy."

Earlier this week, more than 10 opposition parties declared they will boycott the already twice-delayed June legislative elections.

Yankhoba Seydi is spokesman for Idrissa Seck who came in second in the most recent presidential elections. Seydi says the Rewmi party is boycotting the June election because it does not believe it has a fair chance.

"There is no point taking part in a game which you know in advance that you are going to lose," he said.

The opposition parties accuse President Wade of using electronic voter lists to identify supporters of the opposition, and then blocking these voters by not sending out their cards in time, or directing them to vote in poll booths that are far from their homes.

"This is why we have decided not to go into any other elections until questions about the electronic files are settled," said Seydi.

Senegal's Minister of Planning, Lamine Ba, dismisses the opposition's allegations of election fraud.

"They [opposition parties] are trying to discredit our country. The world community is here and they can see what happened," he said. "The opposition- these are people who ruled for 40 years in a socialist system. They brought the country to disaster. They have to stop now and let us work. It is not time for speaking. It is time for working."

The previous two presidents, Leopold Sedar Senghor and Abdou Diouf, were both candidates with the Socialist Party who ruled from 1960 until Mr. Wade took power in 2000.

Last month, Senegal's constitutional court dismissed complaints from opposition candidates that the recent presidential elections had been fraudulent.

President Wade won the first round of voting with 55 percent of the vote. The second place candidate, Idrissa Seck, won almost 15 percent of the vote.

Senegal is generally held up as a stable democracy being the only West African country to not have had a coup.