Senegal anxiously awaits a ruling Friday on whether President Abdoulaye Wade can seek a third term in office, with fears of violence rising as the opposition threatens to defy a protest ban. Amnesty International warns in a new report that the nation is at a crossroads ahead of a tumultuous election period and the potential for violence high as the 85-year-old leader bids for a third shot as leader. Some 20 presidential candidates, including Grammy-award winning singer Youssou Ndour, will have submitted their candidacies to the Constitutional Council for the February 26 presidential election by Thursday night.
Then, in what Amnesty calls “the first moment of truth” in the electoral period, the five-judge body which has the final say on constitutional matters will on Friday unveil the list of approved contenders. The decision has set the nation on edge as it waits to hear if Wade’s controversial bid on a constitutional technicality will go through.
“Wade’s decision to seek another term is seen by his opponents and some influential civil society figures as a challenge to Senegal’s traditions of constitutional order; prominent local experts believe that a third term would breach the rules,” says Paul Melly, Associate Fellow of the Africa Programme at the London think-tank Chatham House. “But there is a widespread expectation that the constitutional council will in fact give the green light.”