World famous singer Youssou N’Dour is contemplating swapping the stage for the campaign rostrum after saying he will run for president in his native Senegal.
“I am a candidate. It’s true, I did no higher education studies. But the presidency is a duty not a job,” he declared on television.
The singer has strongly criticised what he calls astronomic state spending under President Abdoulaye Wade, in a country where formal employment is scarce and average income per head is around 2.3 euros a day.
Tension has risen in the otherwise stable West African country since the constitution was changed, allowing Wade to seek a controversial third term at the age of 85.
But can N’dour do better? There was broad support on the streets of Dakar, the capital.
“I give my full support to his candidature. Because he’s a serious man, he loves Senegal, and he works hard. He’s contributed a lot to the country’s development,” said one young man, Bakary Niassy.
But another doubted the presidency was appropriate for the international star:
“I think he’s trying to take advantage of his popularity a bit to become a candidate. But in reality I don’t think he’s a hardened politician to be able to set his sights on the approval of the Senegalese,” he said.
N’dour is expected to be one of around 12 candidates in the election on February 26 – and a very different one in a country where politicians are far more often academics or intellectuals than musicians.