Senegal urged to lift ban on protests
Brussels - The European Union urged Senegal on Wednesday to lift a ban on street protests and urged all sides to end violence that has left several people dead in the run-up to a presidential election this weekend.
"The EU considers that the ban on demonstrations is unnecessary and unhelpful, and it urges the authorities to lift it," said a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton ahead of Sunday's vote.
"The EU supports the right of Senegalese people to demonstrate peacefully," spokesperson Sebastien Brabant said in a statement.
Approval by the country's top court of 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade's bid to seek a third term, seen by the opposition as illegal, has sparked fierce protests in the capital Dakar.
Violence already claimed six lives and threatened the west African country's image as a beacon of stability in the region.
"The EU underlines its attachment to credible, peaceful and transparent elections, which need to reflect the will of the Senegalese people," the statement said.
"The EU calls on all sides to contribute to this, and to refrain from violent actions."