Wade’s Third-Term Vote Bid Faces Court Test as Protests Mount

Senegal’s Constitutional Court may rule today on whether President Abdoulaye Wade can extend his term in office as protests against his re-election bid mount.

The Dakar-based court has until Jan. 29 to announce its decision on the eligibility of all candidates for the Feb. 26 presidential vote, Pape Dieng, spokesman for the presidency, said in a telephone interview from the city on Jan. 25.

Wade, 85, has fueled criticism in the former French colony with his bid to stay in power for a third term. The president has said his tenure between 2000 and 2007 shouldn’t count as rules on term limits weren’t implemented then. The Constitutional Court is headed by Cheikh Tidiane Diakhate, a supporter of Wade, according to James Clinton Francis, a sub- Saharan Africa researcher with Eurasia Group Ltd. in Washington.

The court “is likely to rule in Wade’s favor,” Francis said in an e-mailed response to questions on Jan. 25. “I would be surprised if Diakhate ruled against Wade, given the increasing politicization of the Constitutional Court.”

The court will also decide on the validity of presidential contestants including singer Youssou N’Dour, former Wade prime ministers Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck, and Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, a former foreign minister.

Political protests have been banned until the outcome of the court ruling, according to Dieng. An attempt by Wade to lower the proportion of the vote needed to win a first-round ballot led to two days of protests in June.

‘We’re Fed Up’

Alioune Tine, leader of Mouvement 23, a group of political and social organizations, vowed to defy the ban, calling for protests in Dakar today. Y’en a Marre, a political grouping meaning ‘we’re fed up’ in colloquial French, plans to wait for the court ruling before deciding on protest action, said Fadel Barro, a member of the group.

Wade said in an interview published by the London-based Financial Times yesterday that he will stand down if the court rules against him, though “there are millions of people who support me.”

Under Wade’s leadership, Senegal, which has a $13 billion economy, has been boosting investment in infrastructure ranging from power plants to roads. Senegal’s 8.75 percent Eurobonds, due 2012, rose for a third day, adding 0.6 percent to 99.433 cents on the dollar late yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The economy is mainly dependent on agriculture. Luxembourg- based ArcelorMittal (MT), the world’s biggest steelmaker, is digging an iron ore mine in Senegal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Skelton in Johannesburg at rskelton7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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