Wade election bid poses risk to Senegal stability: US

Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:27pm GMT

By Diadie Ba and Bate Felix

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third mandate in next month's election, which has triggered a number of protests, could endanger his country's record of democracy and stability, the United States warned on Monday.

Local media and a resident in the northern town of Podor said two people were killed on Monday in the latest pocket of unrest since Senegal's top legal body said Wade could stand despite complaints it breached rules setting a two-term limit.

A policeman died when protesters hurled rocks, overturned cars and set fire to tyres in the streets of Dakar on Friday, when the decision was made public. Opposition appeals were rejected late on Sunday.

The warning was the strongest comment yet from Washington about the February 26 election in the only country in mainland West Africa to have never suffered a coup d'etat. Separately, France also issued concerns over the election process.

"We are concerned that the decision by President Wade to seek a third term ... could jeopardise the decades-long record that Senegal has built up on the continent for democracy, democratic development and political stability," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told a teleconference.

"We hope very much that the political process will be a peaceful one and it will allow for the free active participation of all Senegalese," added Burns, who was speaking from the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Wade has chosen to stay in Senegal and not attend the summit, an event he has rarely missed in the past. Truckloads of police in riot gear have been deployed around his presidential palace, armed with teargas, grenade launchers and truncheons.

A woman who was headed to market and a 17-year-old student, were killed during the anti-Wade demonstration in Podor, according to local media and a resident contacted by Reuters in the town on the border with Mauritania.   Continued...

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade (R) arrives at the reborn monument to welcome Haitian students in the capital Dakar, October 13, 2010. REUTERS/Émilie Régnier
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