Senegal’s Wade sets sights on new term


Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said he was confident of winning re-election in a vote due next February, the clearest sign yet that he intends to stand for a new term despite fierce street protests against his rule.

In his first major speech since riots in the capital Dakar last month, Wade also suggested that he could bring forward the date of the election if the opposition wanted.
“If the opposition is in a hurry, and sure of winning, I can envisage holding an early presidential election,” Wade told an audience of supporters at a hotel in a smart Dakar suburb, Reuters reports.
“And if the people decide to entrust power to someone other than me, I will congratulate the winner…But I am afraid that the winner will be me,” said Wade, whose bid for a third term is considered by critics to be a breach of a constitutional rule requiring the incumbent to stand down after two terms.

Ex-French colony Senegal has a reputation for stability and democracy in a region where power often has changed hands by force, yet a combination of rising living costs, chronic power shortages and recent efforts by Wade to change electoral law has led to a rare bout of unrest.

Opponents accuse the octogenarian Wade of seeking to engineer his re-election and subsequently hand over power to his son Karim, a merchant banker who holds a “super ministry” in his father’s government despite having never won an elected office.

Wade father and son have vehemently denied such a plan.

Wade vowed that efforts to combat Senegal’s energy shortages, including a scheme to rent extra power capacity in the short term, would mean that the current outages would be “only a bad memory” by September.

He also promised to create 100,000 extra jobs with a scheme under which school-leavers could apply to become assistant teachers.