UPDATE: The BBC reports that riots erupted in Dakar after a court in Senegal declared President Wade eligible to run in next month’s general election. President Wade will be seeking a third term in office.
It looks like Senegalese may be forced to live with their country’s model of soft authoritarianism with reasonable levels of political competition for a few more years….
He may be at least 86 years old with 11 years as president behind him, but Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s president, says “he does not feel his age”, and is determined to serve another term and preside over a “generational transition” before retiring.
“In Africa we do not reason in terms of age. You find village chiefs who are 100 years old. So long as you have your wits about you, in African tradition age has advantages: wisdom (for example).” After seeing off rival veterans in polls scheduled for February 26 he would be the “last barracuda among the little fish”, he predicted in an interview in Dakar.
Senegal’s constitutional court will decide on Friday if the President can indeed run for a third term. Mr. Wade pins his hopes on legal gymnastics, insisting that the constitutional term limits enacted during his first term in office only went into force at the beginning of his second term.
Perhaps anticipating the outcome of the court ruling, the government has instituted a five-day ban on public protests beginning tomorrow (Thursday 26/1/2012). The opposition has vowed to carry on with protests should the five-judge panel of the constitutional court approve of Wade’s candidacy.
Many suspect that Wade’s insistence on running for reelection this year is part of an elaborate plan to have his unpopular son, Karim, succeed him. Karim unsuccessful tried to become Mayor of Dakar, the capital, in 2009. He is presently a “super minister” in his father’s government, overseeing dockets as diverse as energy and power, international cooperation, regional development, aviation and infrastructure.
The truth be told, the fact that Wade could even contemplate a third term is an indictment of the Senegalese opposition. They have consistently failed at uniting against Wade and have been more than willing to be bought off. Mr. Wade is well aware of this and did pass a law which permits the President of Senegal to be elected with only 25% of the vote.
It is still possible that the unpopular Mr. Wade may lose even if he gets his way in the courts.
More on the FT report here.