Senegal police prevent opposition sit-in

2012-02-14 22:34

Dakar - Senegal's police on Tuesday blocked youths from settling in a square in Dakar where they planned to launch a permanent sit-in to protest President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for third term in February polls.

Scores of police were deployed on and around Obelisk Square, preventing members of rapper-led youth movement "Fed Up" from gathering for their protest.

"All arrangements were made, the prefect [of Dakar] was informed, but when we arrived the police prevented us from accessing the square. We don't understand," said Ousmane Ndiaye, a spokesperson for the organisers.

Two founding members of the movement, the rappers Simon and Kilifeu, briefly appeared at the end of the afternoon to announce the sit-in was being cancelled and a few dozen youths hanging around the square dispersed.

The sandy palm-fringed square has been the scene of protests in recent weeks against Wade's candidacy in February 26 polls, a move the opposition says is unconstitutional as he has already served two terms.

Wade, 85, argues changes to the constitution in 2008 mean he can serve two more mandates. The validation of his candidacy by the highest court on January 27 sparked deadly riots, leaving four people dead.

Despite national anger and criticism from abroad, Wade has remained defiant, campaigning energetically throughout the country to promise development and ambitious programmes.

The anti-Wade June 23 Movement (M23) which initially fiercely protested Wade's candidacy, declaring themselves united in unseating him, seems to have run out of steam amid individual vote lobbying less than two weeks before elections.

Wade is facing 13 opposition candidates, including two of his former prime ministers and leader of the opposition Socialist Party Ousmane Tanor Dieng.

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