US Urges Senegal To Respect Peaceful Protests

AFP – The United States on Wednesday urged Senegal’s security forces to respect the right to peaceful protest and to avoid the use of force as tensions grow ahead of weekend elections.

With 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade defiantly seeking a third term, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that all Senegalese should enjoy the right to “participate peacefully and actively in the political process.”

“We certainly condemn the use of any violence, or the threat of violence,” Toner told reporters.

“We also would ask that the government and security forces show restraint and honor the Senegalese people’s freedoms of peaceful assembly and peaceful expression,” Toner said.

Senegal, long seen as a model of stability in West Africa, has banned public gatherings as the opposition leads protests against Wade, who insists that changes in the constitution means he can serve beyond the limit of two terms.

Six people have died and dozens have been injured in the political crisis, Senegal’s worst since independence from France.

The European Union has also called on Senegal to lift the ban on protests and France has condemned security force violence against protesters.

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