Calls for calm ahead of polls in Senegal

High profile opponent to Senegal's president arrested on suspicion of involvement in fatal shooting last week.

    Senegal's opposition parties are opposed to President Wade's bid to seek a third term [EPA]

    With presidential polls only two months away, Senegal's presidency has called for calm following deadly political clashes in the capital last week.

    Clashes between the ruling party and opposition last Thursday, which left one dead were, "a sign that must lead us to reflect and realise that violence does not solve any problem," Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, the presidential spokesman, said on Wednesday.

    Ndiaye said "panic" had gripped the country ahead of February 26 elections but all efforts were being taken to ensure the day after the vote "we shake hands and return to work."

    The clashes erupted on the eve of rival rallies by supporters of President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, and opposition protesters angered by his bid for a third term.

    According to opposition Socialist Party spokesman Abdoulaye Wilane, five vehicles filled with armed Wade supporters attacked a local council in a Dakar neighbourhood.

    The party's youth wing leader, Barthelemy Dias, returned fire and fatally shot one man, but was acting in self-defence, Wilane said.

    Wade's third term bid has raised tensions in the capital of a country long considered one of Africa's most democratic nations.

    High profiled arrest

    A high-profile opponent of Senegal's president and ruling party, who is also a mayor of a suburb in the capital Dakar, was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in a fatal town hall shooting, his lawyer said.
     
    "Barthelemy Dias has been remanded in custody on three charges: murder; assault and battery, and illegal possession of firearms," his lawyer El Hadj Diouf said.

    His bodyguard was also detained.

    Wade was chosen on the same day of the shooting by the ruling PDS party as their candidate for the February 26 election.

    Senegal's opposition parties are opposed to the Wade's bid to seek a third term and have accused him of trying to hand over power to his son Karim, who is a super minister in his government.

    Both Wade and his son have denied the charge and the country's highest court will decide in January whether Wade is
    eligible to seek another mandate.

    The opposition and a large part of the country's civil society are contesting Wade's candidature saying the president
    has exhausted his two terms allowed by the revised constitution adopted in a 2001 referendum.

    Senegalese opposition parties have however failed after several attempts to present a single candidate against Wade in
    the election.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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