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French FM hails Senegal's youth protest movement

Laurent Fabius, France's new foreign minister, praised young people who protested former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third mandate earlier this year during his first tour of sub-Saharan Africa Friday.


AFP - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the example of a youth movement that spearheaded protests against former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade seeking a third mandate as he met its leaders on a visit here.

"What you are doing can be held up as an example because the young and less young have to stand together," he told leaders of "Y'en a Marre" (Enough Is Enough) at the movement's headquarters in a Dakar suburb late Friday.

Fabius, who arrived in the Senegalese capital on Wednesday as part of an African tour, told AFP he had sought to meet with members of "Y'en a Marre" because "Senegal is not just official Senegal. One of the things to avoid at all costs is to be shut up in government buildings with officials."

"You must always listen to the people. I get the impression that here is the beating heart of Senegal, and I want to hear Senegal's heart beat," he told the youth leaders.

The movement's coordinator Fadel Barro earlier said Africa needed greater public awareness to enable ordinary people to influence the course of events.

"We are the sentinels of democracy. Our goal is for Senegal to remain a strong democracy," Barro said.

The movement, created in January 2011 to protest against poor living standards in Senegal, in particular soaring food prices and power cuts, played a pivotal role in opposing veteran Wade's re-election bid in February-March this year.

Wade, 86, who had been in power for 12 years, was beaten in a run-off vote by Macky Sall, who garnered more than 65 percent of the vote.

Fabius, on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since he took up his job in May, was to meet President Sall early Saturday.

Senegal is the third leg of Fabius's tour, which has already taken him to Niger and Burkina Faso, and is due to wind up later Saturday in Chad.


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