Senegal’s Wade Pleads For Three More Years At Helm

Senegal’s veteran leader Abdoulaye Wade on Thursday asked for three more years in office to finish his projects as he campaigned ahead of run-off polls in which he faces defeat by rival Macky Sall.

The 85-year-old incumbent was speaking as he paid a visit to the country’s most powerful Islamic brotherhood, the Mourides, in the north of the country.

“I am seeking the prayers of the Caliph to finish my projects in the next three years,” he was quoted as saying by the Senegalese Press Agency.

“The works that I have begun were possible because of loans so these engagements must be honoured,” Mr Wade said, referring to a new international airport being built outside of Dakar, amongst others.

“If I am applying to be President again, it is because my state of health allows it, for one, and also because I am in full possession of my faculties.”

President Wade faced violent protests over his controversial bid for a third term in office in the run-up to February 26 polls, which left six dead and shook the country’s reputation as a haven of stability.

Circumventing

The opposition accuses Mr Wade of circumventing a two-term limit he himself inserted into the constitution in order to cling to power.

However the country’s highest court upheld his argument that a 2008 constitutional amendment altering the term lengths from five to seven years, allowed him another term.

He has said before he wants only a few more years to finish his “grand projects” but this is seen as stalling so he can line up his unpopular son Karim to succeed him.

President Wade has been praised for overseeing a construction boom, but critics say he has focused on fanciful legacy projects — which he calls the “Seven Wonders” — to the detriment of good governance initiatives.

His piece de resistance is the African Renaissance Monument, a North Korean-built bronze behemoth which cost 15 million euros ($20 million), offending those living in its shadow who battle poverty and crippling power cuts.

Long list

Aside from the new airport and a new tolled highway, both still incomplete, Mr Wade has a long list of projects to finish.

He envisions art and architecture schools and has planned an entire new capital city as well as new administrative district to be built on the site of the old airport.

However the incumbent is facing a stiff battle for re-election after suffering a humiliating setback in the first round election, in which he scored 34.81 per cent and his ex-prime minister 26.58 – forcing him to defend his third term bid in a run-off poll on March 25.

He has started off campaigning with a visit to the provinces to court leaders of the influential Islamic brotherhoods whose stamp of approval is seen as essential to sway voters in the majority Muslim nation on the tip of West Africa.

“Wade is convinced that only ndiguels can help him catch up” his rival, wrote news website Dakaractu, referring to voting recommendations in the local Wolof language.

Bitter fall out

The Senegalese Press Agency reported Thursday that the Wade camp has set up a special commission to evaluate what went wrong in the election in which he had vowed a crushing victory in the face of violent protests against his ambitions which could see him ruling into his 90s if re-elected.

The rival sides say they are preparing rallies in the upcoming days.

Mr Sall, 50, is an engineer who is taking part in his first election, having once been pegged as President Wade’s successor before a bitter falling out.

After his strong showing in the first round he has won support from the most influential candidates trailing him as the opposition seeks to unseat the sit-tight leader Wade.

Mr Wade’s opponents combined scored more than 60 per cent of the votes cast in the first round, a sign of the sharp drop in the president’s popularity since he was re-elected in 2007 with 55 per cent.

Africa Review

  1. Pastor Anicho Emmanuel Reply

    Wade is too old, let him quietly leave the throng and enjoy his retirement than battling with younger generation. He has tried his part, let him allow democracy to reign in Senegal. GOD BLESS

  2. Pastor Anicho Emmanuel Reply

    THRONE

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