Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Fashion, what's happened in 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France: 2014 in review

Read more

#THE 51%

South Africa: Taking a stand against child marriage

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'We have to build a new Tunisia', says the president of the Tunisian Parliament

Read more

FACE-OFF

France on alert after attacks: a case of collective hysteria?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Beijing needs to revaluate its policy in the Tibetan areas', says FM of the Tibetan government-in-exile

Read more

Africa

Defiant protesters demand president's departure

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-23

Despite a ban on demonstrations, thousands have gathered in the Senegalese capital to demand the departure of President Abdoulaye Wade who wants to run for a third term in next year’s election, in breach of the constitution.

AP - Senegal’s opposition went ahead with a protest Saturday after changing the venue to skirt a ban on demonstrations issued by the Senegalese government.

Several thousand people began amassing at Place de l’Obelisque, just outside Dakar’s downtown district, to demand the departure of 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade who is attempting to run for a third term.

The constitution only allows a president to serve for two terms, and Wade has angered the population of this normally stable country on Africa’s western coast by insisting on an interpretation of the electoral code which would allow him to run again in 2012.

The protest marks the one-month anniversary of the massive June 23 demonstrations which were the largest in over a decade and which have emboldened the opposition and raised hopes that an Arab Spring-style democracy movement could spread south to sub-Saharan countries.

A decree published earlier in the week by the Ministry of the Interior banned all demonstrations of a political nature in the major boulevards and in front of government buildings and monuments nearly all of which are located in the upscale Plateau district.

Place de l’Obelisque was not mentioned in the decree, however, and so the demonstrators gathered there to call for Wade to step down.

“It’s time for Wade to go,” said opposition leader and future presidential candidate Macky Sall. “Wade has run out of ammunition.”

Senegal is a rare patch of democracy in a region besotted by coups. The nation of 12.6 million which is no larger than South Dakota has a history of choosing its leaders peacefully at the ballot box.

Wade came to power in 2000. His predecessor, former President Abdou Diouf, famously called Wade on the eve of the results to congratulate his opponent, an American-style concession that was unheard of on the continent and that was held up as proof of the maturity of Senegal’s democracy.

In the 11 years since, the very people that helped elect Wade have become disenchanted by the increasing share of power he has given to his eldest child, by the garish display of wealth of his ministers and by his stubborn insistence on running for a third, extraconstitutional term.

Even on a continent where presidents are on average several decades older than their European or American counterparts, Wade’s advancing age has also become a campaign issue.
If he wins another seven-year term in next February’s election, Wade will be in power past his 93rd birthday in a country where the life expectancy is 59.

His age raises the possibility of him dying in office, as happened recently in Togo and Gabon, where the death of the country’s long-ruling dictator was followed by hastily organized elections in which their sons seized power.

The anger that spilled onto the street on June 23 was sparked by Wade’s attempt to rush through a change to the constitution which would have created a vice presidential post.

The opposition charged that the vice presidential post was being created so that Wade could run on a ticket with his unpopular son, and create a mechanism for his succession in the event of the father’s death in office.
 

Date created : 2011-07-23

  • SENEGAL

    Fears of fresh violence ahead of rival marches

    Read more

  • SENEGAL

    Wade proposes early presidential elections

    Read more

  • SENEGAL

    President withdraws electoral reforms after protests

    Read more

COMMENT(S)