ANALYSIS-Senegal: holding back Africa "democracy recession"

Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:51pm GMT

* Fears of governance erosion cloud Wade third-term bid

* Africa has seen flawed elections, constitutional meddling

* Senegal can be democracy weather vane for the continent

* Observers praise fair first round, vigilant for run-off

By Pascal Fletcher

DAKAR, March 12 (Reuters) - Asked what might happen if Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is declared winner of the West African country's elections, student Nando da Silva mouths the sound of an explosion: "Boom!"

Casting his first round ballot last month in Grand Yoff, a dusty Dakar suburb which is a labyrinth of sandy streets and crowded homes, da Silva is one of many young Senegalese who want to see an end to the octogenarian president's 12-year rule.

"African leaders like politics ... khaliss," the 19-year-old adds with an impish grin, using the local Wolof language term for money and rubbing his thumb and finger together to emphasis how high political office brings enrichment for a few.

The clamour for change and renewal in one of Africa's most stable states is colliding headlong with Wade's disputed bid for a third term, setting up a ballot-box battle many see as a test for electoral democracy in the world's poorest continent.   Continued...

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