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Wade confident of third win in Senegalese vote

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-01-16

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, incumbent Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade dismissed his rivals, describing them as 'not heavyweights' and said he was confident of a clear win in the February 26 presidential election.

Senegal’s veteran President Abdoulaye Wade is convinced he will be victorious in the presidential election due on February 26, he told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview broadcast on Thursday, January 5.

And the 85-year-old was confident he would win a clear victory in the first round of the vote, saying that the score of candidates vying against him for the country’s top job “are not heavyweights.”

Senegal is considered one of Africa’s most stable democracies. But this has not stopped tension in the French-speaking nation over constitutional issues relating to the number and length of presidential terms.

In 2001 the constitution was changed limiting presidential terms to two, and capping the length of these terms at five years.

Wade, who is running for his third period in office, argues that because the law was not changed until after he took office, he can still legally run for one more term.

He was re-elected in 2007, this time for five years. But in 2008 the rules were changed again, allowing Wade to serve seven years in the forthcoming term.

Many in the opposition feel that Wade is riding roughshod over the constitution to hold on to power, and that at 85, he will be 92 by the time he finally relinquishes power.

“People are always going on about my age,” he said. “People forget that the leader of the opposition is just as old as I am. And here in West Africa, people understand that there are big advantages in being an older man.”

A constitutional court will rule on the validity of all candidates, including Wade, on January 27.

“I will respect the court’s decision,” Wade said. “I have done enough for this country and for Africa. But I feel I still have a mission to finish here in Senegal and I think this is how the majority of Senegalese think as well.”

Wade’s most colourful challenger is popular singer Youssou Ndour, who announced his candidature on January 2 (which has yet to be validated). Ndour said challenging the president was his “supreme patriotic duty”.

Wade is not fazed, and believes Ndour wants to run because he wants the attention.

“Some people just want to take advantage of TV,” he told FRANCE 24. “He just wants to make a show, to talk to people.”

A constitutional court is due to validate candidates on January 27.

Date created : 2012-01-05

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