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Senegal Opposition M23 Schedules Alliance Talks

Senegalese presidential candidate Cheikh Tidiane Gadio of the Citizen Political Movement Party said he will attend alliance talks with other opposition candidates scheduled Wednesday.

Organized by a coalition of opposition and civil society groups, known as M23, the talks are aimed at forming an alliance to defeat incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade in the second round of the presidential vote.

“Wednesday night, we will discuss to see if Macky Sall is ready to agree on what I call a citizen republican front, a national front to get rid of [President Abdoulaye] Wade and his regime,” said Gadio. “We want to stop the constitutional and electoral coup d’état, and we don’t want him to succeed in putting his son [in office] to replace him, because that has been the reason for his fight for the last four or five years.”

Gadio predicted provisional results from Sunday’s first round election by the independent electoral commission show Wade is unlikely to win the first round of vote as.

Analysts say Sunday’s election outcome will see Wade challenged by his former Prime Minister, Macky Sall, in a run-off vote.

But, Gadio insisted Wade is still undermining the constitution, despite his participation in Sunday’s election.

“President Wade had no business being in this [last] election because his candidacy was unconstitutional from the beginning and he knew it. But, he was seeking a third term by any means necessary and the country was on the brink of violence,” said Gadio. “It’s unfortunate that he has forced himself into this election and now he is going to be in the run-off. Actually, it should have been between Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse.”

Gadio said the objective of Wednesday’s meeting will be for the opposition candidates to find a common ground in an effort to defeat Wade in the presidential run-off election.

He insisted it is unlikely Wade can convince some opposition candidates to support his third term re-election bid.

“Wade is isolated. There is no significant political candidate in this election year that will shift from the opposition to go with Wade,” said Gadio. “It will be a super-miracle for him to get 15 to 20 percent to add to what he acquired in the first round. Macky Sall, with his 26 percent, will have the votes of my supporters, as well as other opposition candidates will be available to him.”

In addition, Gadio warned that Sall will not “automatically” get the support and votes from other opposition parties “because we have to discuss and agree.”

Some analysts say Wade could use his political shrewdness to strike a “sumptuous” deal with Sall, who is viewed as his main challenger and get his former prime minister to join him thus blocking opposition access to power.

But, Gadio warned Sall would be strongly rejected by Senegalese if he joins Wade in the run-off.

“That will be the most suicidal political move ever in history. If Macky Sall cuts a deal with President Wade, I swear to God that he and President Wade will be severely defeated by the Senegalese people,” said Gadio. “I heard that rumor, but I don’t want to take it seriously and I want to have a serious conversation with [Macky Sall] on this issue. But for now, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and I believe he is a sincere opposition leader.”