Africa’s top envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo arrived in Senegal amid fresh clashes on Tuesday, with the opposition hoping he can talk 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade out of seeking a controversial third term in weekend polls.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo’s arrival coincided with yet another day of violence in Dakar, where police fired tear gas to disperse protesters trying to gather near the presidential palace.
As the clashes played out in the seaside capital, Obasanjo said that while his main mission was observing the elections he would not discount stepping in to “prevent what is desirable and unwanted” in the west African nation.
Mr Wade’s camp said Obasanjo was welcome to observe the Sunday election but made it clear there was nothing to mediate, as the European Union observer mission called for a stop to violence.
The opposition June 23 Movement (M23) called for protests all week despite a ban, warning it would not go to the polls if Wade remained a candidate.
The Nigerian statesman, who last year mediated in Ivory Coast’s election crisis, is the head of a joint mission between the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
An ECOWAS statement said Mr Obasanjo’s mission was “to engage all the political stakeholders in Senegal with a view to promoting dialogue and ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent elections.”
President Wade’s critics have recalled that he was among the African leaders who pressured Mr Obasanjo not to seek a third term in 2007 elections when he attempted to change the constitution to do so. His plan was thwarted in Parliament.