Senegal presidency appeals for calm

2011-12-28 22:11

Dakar - Senegal's presidency said on Wednesday that deadly political clashes in the capital last week should lead to soul-searching and called for calm with presidential polls only two months away.

Clashes between the ruling party and opposition last Thursday which left one dead were "a sign that must lead us to reflect and realise that violence does not solve any problem," said presidential spokesperson Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye.

Ndiaye said "panic" had gripped the country ahead of February 26 elections but all efforts were being taken to ensure the day after the vote "we shake hands and return to work".

The clashes erupted on the eve of rival rallies by supporters of President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, and opposition protesters angered by his bid for a third term.

According to opposition Socialist Party spokesperson Abdoulaye Wilane, five vehicles filled with armed Wade supporters attacked a local council in a Dakar neighbourhood.

The party's youth wing leader, Barthelemy Dias, returned fire and fatally shot one man, but was acting in self-defence, Wilane said.

Wade's third term bid has raised tensions in the capital of a country long considered one of Africa's most democratic nations.

Wade's first term lasted seven years, and he was re-elected in 2007 for five years after a constitutional reform shortened presidential terms.

The seven-year stint was reintroduced in another constitutional amendment in 2008, prompting the opposition to argue that Wade's fresh bid was illegal and that he had exhausted the two-term limit.