Ex-Nigerian leader bids to stop Senegal violence

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Ex-Nigerian leader bids to stop Senegal violence

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Former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo is in Senegal as a special African envoy to try to defuse tensions ahead of next Sunday’s presidential election.

The violence has left at least six people dead – another victim was reported on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police.

One young woman demonstrator said angrily:
“My message is for the police; we are brothers, we are your mothers, we’re your sisters. You have no right to fire on us: the Senegalese people are independent. He (the president) just has to set us free, so we can organise free and transparent elections to give him an honorable exit. That’s all we wish for Mr Wade.”

The 85-year-old president was once a leading opposition figure himself. Now his insistance on running for a third term his rivals say is illegal has provoked fury.

Backed by Senegal’s highest court, Wade argues the two-term limit does not include his first term in office as it was only brought in afterwards.

The same court also banned opposition leader Youssou N’Dour from running. The singer defied a police ban to lead a protest and was later slightly injured.

Our correspondent in Dakar François Chignac said:
“With the tensions of the past weeks and the violence of the past few days, the question now is the following: Can Sunday’s vote take place in acceptable conditions? And if that’s not the case, the opposition has already warned that in the event of an Abdoulaye Wade victory in the first round, positions could radicalise and the country could descend into chaos.”