Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade accused the foreign powers that lined up against his bid for a third term of being dupes on Sunday after casting his ballot in the West African state’s most contentious poll in its recent history. The 85-year-old leader, whose bid to extend his rule triggered deadly street riots in the normally peaceful country ahead of a February first round, was urged by the United States and France not to run. He is expected to face a tough challenge from rival Macky Sall, a former ally and prime minister who has won the support of Senegal’s myriad opposition parties since taking second place in the February vote.
“Mr. Carson and Mr. Juppe were intoxicated by Senegalese hucksters who (…) said Senegal will burn if I run,” Wade said, naming French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. “As we saw, the first round passed in good conditions and peacefully, and the results were accepted by all,” he added, saying he hoped to “normalise relations” with Washington and Paris if he wins a new term.
The election is the latest test for democracy in a region plagued by bloodshed and flawed polls, including Ivory Coast’s which triggered a civil war last year. Senegal is also the only nation in mainland West Africa not to have experienced a coup since independence, but a putsch in neighbouring Mali last week has raised security fears and shown how quickly a strong democracy can unravel. “If Senegal can vote peacefully, that would give a lesson in democracy for Mali,” said Thijs Berman, head of the European Union election observer mission in Senegal.
Full Article: Senegal votes in cliff-hanger run-off election.