Fresh protests hit Senegal's capital

Police fire tear gas to disperse demonstrators as government buildings burn in Dakar.

    Public anger is mounting against poor service delivery in Senegal [Reuters]

    Angry residents of the Senegalese capital have torched several government buildings including offices of the state electricity firm, Senelec, to protest against long power cuts, the AFP news agency has reported.

    A policeman said the protesters on Monday "took everything with them, including the safe" and added, "The whole of Dakar is burning."

    Four offices of Senelec were ablaze and four company vehicles torched. Broken bottles and scattered debris littered the streets of the seaside city along with tyres burnt by the protesters. A tax office was also ransacked and burnt in a Dakar suburb.

    The public anger against mounting power cuts first erupted in the coastal town of Mbour, about 80km from Dakar, where police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

    "Hundreds of young people ransacked the Senelec office and burned it," Ismail Diop, a resident of the Dakar suburb of Ouakam, told Reuters.

    Power cuts have steadily worsened in Senegal over the past months and can last up to two days in some areas, hitting economic activity.

    The latest protests come after Abdoulaye Wade, the president, dropped controversial effortslast week, to run for a third term in February 2012 elections as nationwide protests turned to riots in Dakar that left more than 100 people injured - the largest demonstrations since he took power in 2000.

    The shelved election law changes would have added a vice president to the presidential ticket for next year's polls, and dropped the winning threshold for a first-round victory to 25 per cent of votes from the current 50 per cent.

    Wade's critics saw the measures as a scheme by the president to avoid a second round of voting and line up his 42-year-old son Karim Wade, already a government minister, for succession.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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