Political conflict is escalating in the normally peaceful West African nation of Senegal, with protests turning deadly earlier this week as paramilitary police opened fire on demonstrators, leaving two dead.
The protests came in response to the constitutional council’s ruling that 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade could seek a third term in elections scheduled for Feb. 26. Wade had argued that the two-term limit imposed in 2001 does not apply to his first term in office, which began a year earlier, and the council, whose five members were picked by Wade himself, agreed. From Dakar, the capital, the ensuing protests quickly spread to other towns throughout the country.
“The government argument is that the constitution did not talk about retroactive means of limiting the president to two terms, but the opposition -- and particularly now the youth -- are adamant in saying that [Wade] should not run,” said Almami Cyllah, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ regional director for Africa.