Senegal poll campaign, opposition unhappy

2012-06-10 22:25

Dakar - Campaigning begins in Senegal on Sunday ahead of next month's legislative polls, with the former ruling party crying foul over corruption probes launched against key members after the election of President Macky Sall.

Twenty-four lists of parties and party coalitions are contesting the July 1 elections, in which voters will pick 150 lawmakers for a five-year mandate.

The polls mark the first popularity test for Sall, who won the March 25 presidential election run-off against Abdoulaye Wade, ending his 12 years in power.

Sall's presidential coalition is favourite to win the legislative polls.

But the former ruling Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS) has accused the new administration of harassing its members in the run-up to the elections.

The president of the Senate and several former ministers have in recent days come under investigation in national audits for "ill-gotten gains".

The new authorities have set up a special court to recover any stolen assets.

They have also recovered dozens of vehicles they allege were held illegally by members of the former regime.

And they have promised that other audits will follow.

PDS officials have accused the new administration of using the audits to "intimidate and harrass" members of the party ahead of the elections.

They say it is a smokescreen to hide the new administration's inability to meet its campaign pledges.

Condemning the seizures, Wade himself said: "If our vehicles are not returned, there will be no elections."

Former justice minister El Hadji Amadou Sall said: "Macky Sall should himself be audited."

"We have seen in his inheritance declaration that the assets are worth around $6m. In 2000, he was a tenant. He now has buildings even in the United States," said the ex-minister.

"I am going to ask PDS' parliamentary group to put forward at the National Assembly a resolution calling for indictment on treason based on the illicit origin of President Macky Sall's assets," he said.

The former minister is not alone in questioning the president's assets.

Many in the country have raised doubts over how the son of a civil servant father and a mother who sold groundnuts, whose highest office held had been prime minister, came by all his assets.

Amid the outcry over the audits, Sall has called for calm, saying that those who have done nothing wrong should not be afraid.

His new government is banking on several measures to win voters over.

They include lowering prices of basic food items and reducing state spending by closing 59 agencies and state directorates they deem unnecessary, to win voters over.

The moves have been criticised by PDS as hype.