African Politics and Realities

Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade and the Goblet of Power

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The recent decision taken by the Constitutional Council of Senegal of allowing incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade(aged 85) to seek for a third term re-election despite constitutional provisions limiting presidents to a two-term mandate,  has sparked large scale protests and violence across the West African state throughout this week. Often seen as a model of democracy in the region, Senegal is now facing with what many see as a major destabilizing element before the February 26 presidential elections.

The protests taking place have been organized by the opposition coalition and thousands of activists, grouped under the umbrella of M23, which was formed last year to combat Wade’s attempt of amending the constitution, seen at the time as a method meant to be clearing the path towards his re-election in this month’s poll.

A contributing factor to the massive discontent of both political opposition and civil society seems to have been the decision of the Constitutional Court taken during the same session of denying 3 independent candidates to run for presidency , among which popular Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour, arguing that the minimum threshold of 10,000 signatures necessary to validate their candidacy was not met.

On the other hand, countries and international organizations such as the former colonial master France or the United States, and the United Nations Organization, just to name a few, have expressed through official channels that they support a democratic and violence free Senegal, and also that Abdoulaye Wade should reconsider his bid for re-election keeping in mind the best interest of the country and its citizens.


No matter how significant the population’s involvement is, the protests are still lead by a few, which not surprisingly means that once the opposition decides to call off the activities, everything might as well go back to “normal”. Thus, going beyond the constitutionality of the Court’s decision, which in all fairness invoked the principle of non-retro activity ( the constitution was adopted in 2001, which would technically mean that Wade’s first term would not be covered by it), it should now be a matter of how to best prepare for the polls on the part of the opposition.

The justified fear of rigged elections is on everyone’s minds, however it seems to me that the alert button has already been pushed, so with the high degree of international attention now attributed to the events taking place is Senegal, Wade and his “followers” might as well play by the rules of a democratic electoral game. His vulnerability is obvious, which means that if the opposition has the nation’s best interest in mind they will call of the protests in view of most likely winning the upcoming elections.

By Florin Sandu




Written by fashionroseblog

February 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

One Response

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  1. Florin tu as fait une très bonne analyse….Abdoulaye Wade veut forcer un troisième mandat et celà est entrain de soulever d’importantes violences au Sénégal…

    Abdoul Lamine Diallo

    February 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

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