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Wade’s Third-Term Bid Faces Senegal Court Test as Ban Lifted

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Senegal’s Constitutional Court may rule today on whether President Abdoulaye Wade can extend his term in office as local media reported that a ban on protests had been lifted.

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.

‘We’re Fed Up’

A ban on political protests until Jan. 30 was lifted, Dakar-based news website Seneweb reported, without saying how it got the information. Sire Ly, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, couldn’t immediately confirm the lifting when reached on his mobile phone today.

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.

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 2021, fell 0.1 percent to 98.75 cents on the dollar by 12:11 p.m. in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield rose 2 basis points to 8.947 percent.

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

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

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