[QODLink]
Inside Story
Is Senegal sliding into chaos?
The president's decision to run for a third term has been met by anger in one of Africa's most mature democracies.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2012 11:12

 

It was one of the most peaceful nations on Africa's west coast. But is that beginning to change?

"When your president tells you and the whole world that the new constitution doesn't allow him to run in 2012 and then he changes his mind, it is a constitutional coup d'etat and he will look for an electoral coup d'etat. We have no trust in the process, in the system, once our constitution has been violated."

- Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, an opposition leader

Senegal's constitutional court has approved the decision by Abdoulaye Wade, the country's president, to run for a third term despite the fact that the constitution was changed in 2000 - shortly after Wade took office - to limit presidents to just two terms.

Wade argues that the law does not apply to him as it was not in effect when he was first elected and says he needs another three years to complete his projects. This has fuelled speculation that he is lining up his son Karim as his potential successor. 

The Senegalese opposition has responded by calling on the people to protest.

A policeman was stoned to death in violent clashes in the capital, Dakar, on Friday as youths torched cars and shops, erected barricades and burnt tyres.

"The president can guarantee, with our partners, observers, the EU and France, that on February 26 we can organise elections that are fair, transparent, democratic and controlled by EU observers."

- Amadou Sall, a spokesperson for the president

Calm returned to Dakar over the weekend, but police in full riot gear and armed with tear gas, grenade launchers and truncheons have been deployed around the presidential palace.

Meanwhile, opposition parties, which have united under the June 23 Movement (M23), have vowed to continue "national resistance" and called the court's decision a "constitutional coup".

So is Senegal sliding into chaos?

Inside Story, with presenter Laura Kyle, discusses with guests: Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, a presidential candidate for the Citizen Political Movement Party and a leader of the M23 opposition movement; Amadou Sall, a spokesperson for Abdoulaye Wade, the current president; and Sylvain Touati, an expert on West Africa and an associate fellow at the French Institute for International Relations.

"We've seen a lot of political moves in recent years. Many Senegalese are reacting against Wade's move to try to promote his son Karim, whose legitimacy is not that great at the moment. What a lot of Senegalese people I spoke to recently were very, very upset about is this father-son relationship about power in Senegal."

Sylvain Touati from the French Institute for International Relations

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.