25 February 2012

Senegal: Uncertainty Grips Nation On Eve of Poll

Photo: allAfrica.com
An invalided former soldier demonstrates against Wade's candidacy.

Dakar — Senegal was gripped by uncertainty on Saturday on the eve of its most troubled election since independence in which 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a controversial third term in office.

No clear frontrunners have emerged out of 14 candidates after an election campaign marred by violent protests which left six dead and shook the west African nation long seen as a beacon of stability and democracy.

The national elections commission has said it is ready for the election, however concerns remain over more than 450,000 voters cards which have not been collected by some of the nation's 5.3 million registered voters.

After weeks of opposition protests against Wade's candidacy, the rapper-led youth movement "Fed Up" urged voters not to boycott the poll, but to go fetch their voters cards and vote massively against the incumbent.

Main contenders

Among the main contenders taking on Wade in the open electoral race are former prime ministers Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse, and socialist leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng.

Meanwhile, opposition and civil rights groups in Senegal have categorically rejected the African Union mediator's hypothetical roadmap which was intended to forestall post-election violence in the country.

Among other things, the plan envisaged that in the likely incident of President Wade's outright victory in the first round, his government would be allowed in power for only two years.

After that period, a government of national unity will be set up and be responsible to reform laws and institutions and establish an acceptable agenda on which the country's political future could hang on.

The AU mediator ex-Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo disseminated the roadmap to all of the stakeholders of the country political sector on Saturday night. - Tamba Jean-Matthew and AFP

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