President's Power Grab Riles Once-Stable Senegal

African nation faces rare unrest over leader's bid for third term
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2012 5:17 PM CST
President's Power Grab Riles Once-Stable Senegal
This 2006 file photo shows Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

Protesters took to Senegal's streets last week after a court ruled that the country's president could serve a third term. Yesterday, paramilitary forces reportedly opened fire on demonstrators, killing two. It's an unusual moment of unrest in a West African democracy that's been largely stable, never having seen a military coup, the Los Angeles Times explains. Anger against Abdoulaye Wade has been mounting as he boosts presidential power—and perhaps tries to clear the way to have his son succeed him.

Wade picks some two-thirds of senators and lengthened his term to seven years; now, he wants to seek a third term despite a constitutional ban. As with anti-government protests elsewhere, the nation's young people are leading the charge. “They’re not going to put up with Wade sticking around in office,” says an official with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Whether he wins fair or unfair, there are going to be large protests. ... This election will be decided on the streets.” (More Senegal stories.)

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