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Senegal’s M23 Opposition Group Organizes Anti-Wade Protests

Two Senegalese presidential candidates and the opposition group Mouvement 23 are holding a protest in the capital, Dakar, as demonstrations against President Abdoulaye Wade continue five days before elections.

A “large group of protesters passed through the streets” around the Sandaga market in the center of Dakar, Abdoulaye Dembele, a furniture maker with a shop in the area, said by phone. He said he could smell tear gas.

The groups planned to gather at the Place de l’Independence, a public square in downtown Dakar, said Oumar Diallo, a lawyer with Senegalese human-rights group Raddho, which is part of M23. Candidates Idrissa Seck and Cheikh Bamba Dieye are taking part, he said by phone today.

The protests started on Jan. 27 when the Constitutional Court approved Wade’s bid to run for a third term in office in the Feb. 26 election. Wade argued that a law limiting presidential terms to two didn’t apply to him because he was already in office when it was enacted.

At least nine people have been killed and dozens injured in demonstrations where protesters have clashed with police, according to U.K.-based Amnesty International’s Senegal office.

Place de l’Independence is “a symbolic place when you think about Senegal’s independence,” Diallo said. Protests at that location have not been authorized by Senegal’s government, he said.

Wade faces 13 candidates in the vote. A second round will be held next month if no one wins 50 percent of ballots.

A demonstration yesterday held by Y’en a Marre, another group that opposes Wade’s third-term bid, was peaceful, said Alioune Sane, a spokesman for the group.

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