A prominent member of Senegal’s opposition M23 is calling on the international community to pressure President Abdoulaye Wade to end the growing pre-election violence allegedly perpetrated by state security forces.
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Wade has faced violent opposition protests in his bid for a court-approved third term, despite a two-term constitutional limit. Protesters say six people have been killed following violence they described as a police crackdown to silence dissent. The election is Sunday.
Wade’s spokesman, Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, accused one of the opposition presidential candidates of recruiting a militia in an attempt to destabilize the country.
M23 proponent Alioune Tine sharply denies the accusation as without merit.
“They are not telling the truth. Everybody knows that the ruling party has militiamen. They attack people like me, they attacked the mayor of Dakar and they attacked two of the opposition presidential candidates,” said Tine. “All our protests are peaceful and it is because they are repressing violently the demonstrations; that is why things are getting violent.
Tine said the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the rest of the international community should hold Wade responsible for the escalating violence.
“Time is up for the international community to say stop this violence,” said Tine. “I think that it is difficult that we are going to elections in Senegal in such a sad situation.”
Benin’s President, Yayi Boni, who is also the current chairperson of the African Union (AU), has called on supporters of both the ruling party and the opposition to end the violence ahead of Sunday’s presidential vote.
Mr. Boni urged them to “start an inclusive political dialogue in order to ensure a peaceful and transparent electoral process to consolidate the remarkable achievements of Senegal during its contemporary period, as well as its path towards democracy.”
Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo is heading an AU poll observer mission to Senegal in the run up to the election.
Tine said the opposition is ready to hold talks with the government to end the violence. He also said members of the M23 will be meeting Obasanjo to express their concerns ahead of Sunday’s vote.
“I have met some of [Mr. Obasanjo’s] assistants to prepare for our meeting with him. But, he is not here as a mediator,” said Tine. “Dialogue is the best way to have peace and stability in this country. The best way is not to say, ‘Let us go to elections,’ because, if we go to the elections [without dialogue], we will have many problems in this country.”