Senegal Court Approves Wade’s Bid for Presidency, Sparking Riots

Senegal’s highest court approved a bid by President Abdoulaye Wade to stand in a Feb. 26 election, paving the way for him to extend his 12-year rule of the West African country into a third term and sparking riots in the capital, Dakar.

Wade’s candidacy for next month’s election was approved by Senegal’s Constitutional Court late yesterday, Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, spokesman for the president, said by mobile phone today. Rioting in Dakar after the court’s decision led to the death of a policeman, according to local police.

Wade, 85, has fueled criticism in the former French colony with his bid to stay in power. He has argued that because Senegal’s constitution was changed in 2008, his time as leader before then shouldn’t be considered as his first of two permissible terms as president.

The Constitutional Court is headed by Cheikh Tidiane Diakhate, who is a supporter of Wade, according to James Clinton Francis, a sub-Saharan Africa researcher with Eurasia Group Ltd. in Washington.

“Wade will most likely get the plurality of votes in the first round of elections, possibly enough to win outright,” Francis said in an e-mailed response to questions on Jan. 25.

Rioting in Dakar yesterday killed a policeman, spokesman Alioune Ndiaye said by mobile phone today. The unrest ended at about 1 a.m. local time and the capital city is currently peaceful, he said. “Today we will wait and see, but we think it will be calm,” Ndiaye said.

‘Widespread Unrest’

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. The Constitutional Court’s approval may lead to “widespread unrest in Dakar and cities, much worse than those seen since June,” according to Eurasia’s Francis.

Alioune Tine, leader of Mouvement 23, a group of political and social organizations, called for protests in Dakar. Y’en a Marre, a political grouping meaning “we’re fed up” in colloquial French, plans to hold protests after the court ruling, said Fadel Barro, a member of the group.

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, rose 0.3 percent to 99.188 cents on the dollar late on Jan. 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield fell 5 basis points to 8.876 percent.

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