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US Congress Members Ask Senegal's President Not to Run

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters, in New York, September 21, 2011.

Four members of the U.S. Congress have asked Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade not to seek another term in elections next year.

In a letter obtained by VOA's French to Africa Service, the two senators and two representatives take note of street clashes in Senegal's capital earlier this year, and tell Wade that the country could experience more unrest if he runs for re-election.

They warn a constitutional crisis could undo advances for democracy in Senegal, and strain the country's ties with the U.S.

The authors of the letter include Christopher Coons, chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Africa.

Wade, who is 85, has served two terms as Senegal's president, the constitutional limit. However, Wade's supporters say he is able to run again because the constitution was not in effect when he was first elected in 2000.

Senegal's Constitutional Court has yet to rule on his eligibility.

Senegal has been peaceful compared to many other African countries but critics of Wade accuse him of becoming autocratic.

Anti-government riots paralyzed the capital, Dakar, in June, after the ruling party moved to create the post of vice president and lower the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election.

The president's opponents said the moves were aimed at making it easier for Wade to be re-elected, and for his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him.

After the protests, the proposals were dropped.