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Senegal's Wade Seeks Re-Election Despite Protests

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York (File Photo - September 21, 2011).

Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade intends to run for a third term in next year's election despite recent opposition protests and calls for the 85-year-old leader to step down.

Presidential spokesman Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye told the media Tuesday that the ruling PDS party will present Wade as its candidate for the February 26th poll.

Ndiaye said when the time comes, we will depose the candidacy of our candidate and it will be up to the Constitutional Court to determine its validity in accordance with the law.

The validity of Wade's third-term bid is the source of much debate in Senegal. The opposition says Wade's candidacy violates the constitution. However, Ndiaye said Tuesday the ruling party is confident of its admissibility.

Controversy over President Wade's re-election bid, coupled with frequent electricity cuts and the rising cost of living, have sparked opposition protests in recent months.

Massive, anti-government riots paralyzed Dakar on June 23 after the ruling party moved to create the post of vice president and lower the percentage of votes need to win the presidential election outright. The ruling party dropped the proposed constitutional changes in the face of the unrest.

An opposition coalition, named the June 23rd Movement, has called on Wade to withdraw his candidacy and has threatened more demonstrations.

Ndiaye said the February vote will likely be "keenly contested" but that the president is calling for a free, fair and peaceful poll.

The spokesman says the president is responsible for maintaining order and security. No disruptions of any nature to the election, he says, will be tolerated.

Ndiaye said candidates, Wade included, will submit their bids before the Constitutional Court 30 to 60 days before the poll, as stipulated by law. He said the court will then publish its rulings on candidate eligibility in late January.

President Wade won the last election in 2007 with about 56 percent of the vote.