Senegal drops new law amid protests

Demonstrators say proposed electoral law would strengthen President Abdoulaye Wade's 11-year grip on power.

    Witnesses said police fired tear-gas and water cannons at protesters in Dakar and other cities of Senegal [Reuters]

    The Sengalese president has dropped a controversial electoral law amid opposition protests in the capital, Dakar, on Thursday.

    Opponents of 85-year-old Abdoulaye Wade criticised the bill, saying it would allow him to easily retain power in next February's presidential elections.

    The current law requires that a candidate be elected with a 50 per cent majority in the first round of voting to avoid facing a run-off.

    Al Jazeera spoke to Abir Saksouk-Sasso, a witness to the protests in Dakar

    The draft law would reduce that number to only 25 per cent and create a position of vice-president, leaving Wade's rivals concerned that he has plans to bring his 42-year-old son, Karim, into power.

    Justice Minister Cheikh Tidiane Sy told lawmakers debating the bill that the president had "taken into consideration your concerns," adding to applause that "he asked me to withdraw the draft legislation," the AFP news agency reported.

    Outside parliament and around Dakar, protesters took to the streets voicing outrage of the proposed bill.

    Private television stations in Senegal showed footage of Thursday's protests against the president in cities and towns elsewhere around the West African nation.

    Witnesses told Al Jazeera that police fired tear-gas and water cannons at thousands of protesters chanting "Leave Wade" and "Don't touch my constitution" around the parliament and presidential palace in Dakar.

    Several people were injured when crowds clashed with police, according to reports.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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