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Senegal fears violence as it prepares for runoff vote

February 27, 2012 |  3:45 pm


People in Senegal fear that if their president wins a third term in elections Sunday, the country may descend into chaos. At least six people have already died in protests.

"At first I thought it would all calm down," tradesman Moustapha Ndiaye told The Times. "But now I'm afraid of what will happen after the election if Wade wins. That's when the real violence will begin."

Instead the country is gearing up for another election. Incumbent Abdoulaye Wade fell short of the 50% needed to win the presidency outright, putting him into a runoff with an opposition candidate.

Every day on World Now we choose a remarkable photo from around the world. Today we picked this shot from Senegal, where backers of Wade chanted slogans after he announced he would go to a runoff.

Senegal, long seen as an African success story, has been racked by turmoil since Wade set his sights on a third term in office. The Senegalese Constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Wade argues he is exempt from the rule because he was elected before the term limits were put into force.

After a Senegalese court ruled in his favor, protests erupted throughout the country, spearheaded by young people. His opponents see him as megalomaniacal and wasteful, deriding extravagances such as a $27-million bronze statue called the "Monument to the African Renaissance."

Wade told media that with more than half of the votes counted, he was leading 13 other candidates with 32.17% of vote, the Associated Press reported. He was followed by Macky Sall, an opposition candidate who could defeat Wade in the next round if the president's critics unite behind him.


Senegal braces for violence after presidential election

Why is Senegal -- an African success story -- becoming unstable?

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: A Senegalese woman holds a picture of President Abdoulaye Wade as she chants slogans with other Wade supporters after a news conference outside the presidential palace in Dakar on Monday. Photo: Nic Bothma / European Pressphoto Agency