Senegal opposition wants more 'resistance'

2012-01-28 21:00

Dakar - Senegal's opposition called on Saturday for more "resistance" against President Abdoulaye Wade, after a night of riots over his plans to run for a third term in elections next month.

Local media reported that one policeman was killed during the riots, in which protesters threw rocks, overturned cars and burned tyres and security forces fired tear gas, raising worries of growing instability in West Africa's most peaceful nation.

Calm had returned to the capital Dakar by morning and security boosted around the presidential palace. Truckloads of police in full riot gear patrolled the city, armed with tear gas grenade launchers, according to a Reuters witness.

"We are asking the people to remain alert and to resist Abdoulaye Wade," Abdoul Aziz Diop, the spokesperson for opposition activist movement M23 told Reuters by telephone on Saturday. "If Wade tries to impose himself on us ... we will resist."

He said that opposition figures and activist leaders were meeting on Saturday to discuss their next steps.

Music star

The clashes came after Senegal's top legal body late on Friday night validated the candidacy of 85-year-old Wade and 13 rivals for the February 26 vote, but turned down the presidential bid of world music star Youssou N'Dour, saying he did not have the required 10 000 signatures of support.

Wade's rivals say the constitution sets an upper limit of two terms on the president. But Wade, who came to power in 2000 and was re-elected in 2007, has argued his first term pre-dated the 2001 amendment establishing the limit.

Wade appeared on state television late on Friday and made an appeal for calm, promising elections would be free and fair.

"Stop these displays of petulance which will lead to nothing," he said. "The electoral campaign will be open. There will be no restrictions on freedom."

Senegal is the only country in mainland West Africa to have not had a coup since the end of the colonial era.

Read more on:    abdoulaye wade  |  senegal  |  senegal protests  |  west africa

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