Wade shrugs off Western pressure
Dakar - Senegal's president Abdoulaye Wade, whose re-election bid has drawn fierce criticism abroad, said in his opening campaign rally that France and the United States had no right to ask him to step aside.
"I do not seek the interest of the toubabs [Westerners], but that of the Senegalese people," the 85-year-old leader said late on Sunday in Mbacke, 200km east of the capital Dakar.
"The Americans and the French are not the Senegalese's bosses. Nobody can deny our strength," he said in a speech marking the official launch of the campaign for the February 26 presidential election.
The west African country's opposition argues that Wade's bid for a third term is unconstitutional, and has launched a protest movement aimed at forcing him to drop out of the race.
Former colonial power France and the United States, once fervent supporters of the veteran leader, have voiced their disappointment and suggested Senegal was ready for a next generation of leaders.