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Arame Article

Arame Article

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Published by Jemila Abdulai
Arame Article
Arame Article

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Published by: Jemila Abdulai on Feb 09, 2012
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07/10/2013

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SENEGAL IN DANGER:
Our Nation is going down that very ugly familiar lane…Where we know only the start but not where it will lead.
Op-ed  Arame Tall February 1, 2012
To all reading this, Senegal is in need of prayers today. Prayers to avoid us goingdown that very ugly familiar lane where Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Kenya and ahost of other African states preceded us… Down the ugly lane of pre-electoralviolence.The recent events ongoing in Senegal are defying the most basic assumptions heldabout Senegal’s democracy.Senegalese police officers firing on Senegalese citizens with live ammunition, andkilling a young University Masters student, wounding at least ten others.Police officers bitterly fighting with protesters across all the neighborhoods of thecapital until the wee hours of the night (in Khar Yalla, Baobab, Niary Talli, Ouakam,Colobane, the list goes on…)All the neighborhoods of Dakar ablaze… Overwhelmed police forces struggling toput out the multiple simultaneous hearths across the city, but barely succeeding..At the heart of all this violence, a peaceful protest convened by the M23, and joinedby hundreds of men, women, old and young, students and ordinary citizens of allfaiths and political affiliations at The Place de l’Obélisque, which has become thesymbol and seat of anti-Wade popular resistance, responded to by police tear gas…
 
 In the middle of the protest, a police hot water hose tank runs into the crowd,crushing a young woman dead.An ambulance IN OPERATION, carrying a victim severely wounded, fired withteargas by police forces.Red Cross volunteers everywhere carrying wounded protesters and providing first aid.All these images seem surreal even to the most seasoned analysts of Senegal’spolitical evolution. One does not believe this is really taking place in Senegal.Pre-electoral violence in Senegal, brewing since the announcement of Wade’s bid fora third term, exploded when Wade received green light from Senegal’sConstitutional Court on Friday January 27, confirming him on the list of validcandidates to the next election to be held on February 26 2012.
Brewing popular discontent 
A multi-party competitive democracy since 1974, when many other African stateswere still reeling under the iron fist of dictators and bloody military coups, Senegalhoisted itself up to the level of a firm beacon of democracy in the region in 2000,when former president Abdou Diouf, head of presidential regime in power for 40years, peacefully handed power over to Abdoulaye Wade, close winner of the 2000presidential election, and to his opposition coalition.Much water has gone under the bridge since 2000, and Wade today is the most contested figure in the Nation.Following the June 23 2011 popular uprising, which saw the historic unleashing of asea of protesters in front the National Assembly to contest a constitutionalmakeover that would have instituted a vice-presidency (thought to have beencreated for Wade’s son, Karim Wade) and secured an easy victory for Wade at the2012 presidential election (see articleGreen Thursday in the Life of the Nationbysame author), contestation has not died down.Firm popular demands for the invalidation of Wade’s candidacy to the next electionwere stepped up in the run-up to 2012 presidential electoral campaign. On thegrounds that the new Constitution adopted in 2001 – drafted by President Wadehimself one year following his rise to power –, limited the number of terms of anypresident to a maximum of two, protesters took the streets multiple times todenounce what they saw as a constitutional coup d’état.The calls for President Wade’s departure were in part fuelled by his age and doubtsabout his ability to assume the country’s leadership of the country. Officially 85
 
years old, Wade is thought to be at least 90 years old by most people in Senegal.After another third term, he would thus be at least 97 years of age, a record even foran African village chief. Many also fear that Wade’s secret’s ploy is to seize power in2012, but not finish his term –midway creating a vice-presidency position andappointing his son, Karim Wade, to the position, thus succeeding to impose his planof a monarchic devolution of power that the Senegalese electorate rejected duringthe 2009 legislative elections and again on June 23, 2011.Led by the “Y’en A Marre” group and the M23, a popular citizen movement composed of all opposition parties, civil society groups and ordinary citizens,created to keep alive the spirit of the 23 June uprising, the protesters took thestreets every 23
rd
day of the month between June and December 2011.Wade showed no signed of retreat from his resolution to run for a third presidentialbid however. Changing the administrative partitioning of the country to downsizethe districts where his party, the PDS, did not have a lead (for more click here),ransacking public coffers to fund his campaign, publicly announcing his retraction of his previous public statement where he announced that he would not run again in2012, Wade appeared determined as ever to extend his stay in power for a thirdterm. A series of political intimidations perpetrated against opposition politicalfigureheads by heavy muscled youth also set the country in a tense mode of violence, escalating into the death of a PDS envoy and imprisonment of Wade’sfiercest youth opponent, Barthelemy Diaz, head of the Socialist Party’s Youth League(seelink ).As a bitter constitutional debate took hold over the country, with the majority of Senegalese constitutionalists who took part in the writing of the 2001 Constitutionstating that Wade’s third bid was unconstitutional, while a minority, affiliated withWade’s camp, maintained that Wade was exempt from the immediate application of the 2001 Constitution’s provisions, having been elected one year prior to itsadoption, the final word on the constitutional validity or not of Wade’s thirdpresidential bid was left to Senegal’s Constitutional Court. Composed of the “fiveWise”, judges appointed by the president and copiously treated in the dayspreceding their decision with gifts of a limousine each and 5million CFA bonusesfrom the President, serious doubts were cast regarding the impartiality of theCourt’s decision.
Decision of Constitutional Court allows Wade to run for a third term
On January 27 2012, 29 days prior to Election day, the Senegalese ConstitutionalCourt’s “Five Wise” published the final list of validated candidates for the 2012presidential election. This list included Abdoulaye Wade, and excluded the notoriouspopular singer Youssou N’Dour who had announced his bid for the presidential seat at the 11
th
hour in a contested context.

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