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Senegalese Opposition to Mourn Death of Activist

Protesters burn tires in a street after Senegal's highest court ruled that the country's increasingly frail, 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade could run for a third term in next month's presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, January 27, 2012.

A leading member of Senegal’s opposition, M23, said members of the group will hold prayers and demonstrations Friday to mourn the death of a student protester.

Namadou Diop was killed January 21st in the capital, Dakar, during protests against a court ruling that paves the way for incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade's third term re-election bid.

M23 proponent Alioune Tine says the opposition group will pray and mourn with the Diop family in Nbour, a city in Senegal’s Thiès region.

“It’s important for us to see the family because Namadou Diop is the hero for our struggle, and it is very important for us to go there,” said Tine.

Wade has faced violent opposition to his bid for a third term, despite a two-term limit. Opposition groups, including political parties and civil society organizations, have demonstrated against a court ruling, which effectively ensures that Wade will represent the ruling party in this month’s vote.

In its ruling, the court agreed that the limit did not apply to Wade because the constitution came into effect after he was first elected in 2000. But, the opposition insists the ruling sharply contravenes the constitution.

Tine said the death of the student protester is a catalyst for the opposition M23 to continue the fight against what he calls Wade’s constitutional coup d’état.

“It’s a great moment for our resistance against the coup of Mr. Wade. We are going to Nbour to make demonstrations, to talk to the people, and to get the people ready for the struggle,” said Tine. “We have different programs all over the country to make the people to be conscious of the importance of resisting against the coup of President Wade.”

Analysts say it is unlikely the demonstrations will prevent Wade from representing the ruling party in the February 26th vote. But, comparing the country’s political situation to that of Ivory Coast, Tine said the M23 will prevail in its struggle to oppose Wade’s participation in the upcoming election.

“The court of Ivory Coast said Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo is the president of Cote D’ivoire, but now where is Mr. Gbagbo? It’s the same problem with Senegal,” said Tine. “The court violated our own constitution. They didn’t interpret the law. They just said there you have it, President Wade, and now we have a great problem like Cote D’ivoire.”

Tine expressed confidence in what he calls the resistance of the masses against the violation of Senegal’s constitution.

“People are resisting all over the country. It’s very hard for the president to campaign because people are resisting him,” said Tine. “I think soon Wade will dismiss or renounce his candidature.”