Elections May Not quiet unrest in Senegal (39649)

Feb. 21 (GiN)–The uprising that began in Tunisia and Egypt has landed with both feet in Senegal, where an aging president, Abdoulaye Wade, claimed the right to a third term in office despite a constitutional reform that limits presidents to only two.

Wade is expected to sweep the poll scheduled for Feb. 26. Fourteen other candidates, including two women, are also vying for the position.

The failure of the Wade administration to bring economic development to this West African nation after 12 years has left many of his former supporters disenchanted, especially the youth.

Many suspect that the 85-year-old leader is only holding the post for his son Karim–a minister in his father’s cabinet in charge of powerful portfolios such as energy.

What began with peaceful protests and a movement known as “We Are Fed Up” turned into a running battle, with police shooting rubber bullets and tear gas.

The mayor’s office in Tivaouane, the seat of the Tidiane, Senegal’s largest Islamic brotherhood, was burned to the ground and the death toll reached six people.

Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom apologized after a tear gas canister went off inside a mosque where people were praying on Friday. The incident brought an apology from the government, which called it a “police blunder.”

A second round of voting will be held next month if no one wins 50 percent of the ballots on Feb. 26.