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Senegalese Opposition Leader Predicts Wade Run-off Defeat

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is surrounded by supporters and security as he travels between campaign stops in downtrodden suburban neighborhoods of Dakar, Senegal Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012.

The leader of Senegal’s National Democratic Rally (RND) said it is now the priority of opposition and civil society organizations to deal a “devastating blow” to President Abdoulaye Wade’s controversial third term re-election bid.

“It’s obvious that Mr. Wade cannot win this run-off. A run-off will be fatal to him because it’s going to be a sort of a referendum on him,” said Dialo Diop. “A vast majority of voters have already shown that they are against him by saying ‘No’ to a third term for the incumbent president. That is conspicuous in the declaration of the provisional official results.”

Diop said over 60 percent of voters outright rejected Wade’s third term re-election effort.

“This run-off is just a formality. It is going to be a devastating blow to Wade.”

Wade is scheduled to face main opposition leader Macky Sall in the second round of vote after none of them garnered a majority in the February 26th first round election.

Supporters of the 85-year old Wade are predicting a resounding victory in the presidential run-off vote, despite an anticipated opposition alliance aimed at defeating him. They warned it would be a political suicide for the opposition to write-off Wade’s re-election prospects in the second round after highlighting divisions within opposition ranks as one that the incumbent could exploit.

But, Diop said the run-off will be Wade’s “Waterloo” [crushing defeat].

“I believe that no matter how tricky he may be we are used to it. But, this time he is done because there is no way out for him,” said Diop. “Most of the opposition parties made a public pledge to come together in a possible run-off to support the candidate who placed second. So, candidate Macky Sall has automatic support. There is no way, no matter what may happen, for President Wade to remain in power after the run-off.”

Diop said the opposition parties will work closely to prevent the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) from having a majority in parliament. Opposition candidates previously vowed not to support Wade for his third term re-election bid.

“If we have to have a system without Wade, we have to manage so that Macky Sall’s party would be granted a majority in parliament. Otherwise, we would be [in a] bad political situation [that] we have been in since independence,” said Diop.

Provisional results released late Wednesday showed Wade with about 35 percent of the vote and Sall with about 26 percent. Following the announcement, an optimistic Sall rallied opposition supporters to back him in the runoff vote tentatively scheduled for later this month.

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