Senegal: Wade’s Defiance, AU’s Silence, The People’s Resistance written by Japheth Omojuwa and Franklin Cudjoe


At the age of 93, President Abdoulaye Wade would decide whether to run for president again in Senegal when in 2019 he finishes yet another 7 year "mandate." There are three "ifs" to this, one big, the other almost an inevitability depending on the first and the last an “if” that goes with everyone. If the people of Senegal allow Abdoulaye Wade to have his wish to run again this February and if he wins at the polls, and the other “if” beyond his control is if he lives to finish his tenure of office.



For a man who ran for president four times beginning from 1978 before finally taking office in 2000, he will not be short of the will to persist in the face of an increasingly rising opposition and protests across the streets and cities of Senegal. Wade did not just start his process of retaining the Senegalese presidency this year though, he already sought to make the job easier last year when he proposed changes to the constitution that always looked like he wanted to have an easy ride the next time around. His proposed alteration was to slash the percentage a candidate needed to win the elections without a run off to 25 per cent instead of 50 per cent. In essence, Mr. Wade saw nothing wrong in 25 per cent of the people deciding who the president would be this year. That was last June but the protests and people's rejection of the idea stopped Wade and it appears the people of Senegal will go head to head with their president again.


 While the structures and foundation of democracy are threatened in Senegal, African leaders are still reveling in the celebration of yet another "gift" from China to Africa, the $200 million new African Union building in Ethiopia and the unveiling of Kwame Nkrumah statue at the same venue. Characteristic of a body that never seems to get it right when it matters, the AU has been mute about the events in Senegal.



Ironically, Mr. Wade himself inaugurated a $27 million statue in Senegal symbolizing the collective struggles of Africans against authoritarian rule in Africa. Regarded as one of the wasteful "prestige projects" undertaken by President Wade, the African Renaissance Monument also suffered a dip in popularity when President Wade claimed he was entitled to 35 per cent of all tourist profits the statue generates because the idea was his “intellectual property.”


 Abdoulaye Wade has not been without his own helpers. The Constitutional Court  of Senegal did rule on the 27th of January that Mr. Wade could run for a third term saying his first term which started in 2000 did not count under the new (2001) constitution. As the 26th day of February 2012 date for the election (decreed by President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade on 23 November 2010) approaches, the path and journey to that date would be tortuous and going by happenings across the Arab world and the Middle East, Senegal might be in for a long drawn battle between the ruled and the ruler.


Place de l'Obelisque in central Dakar is expected to be the country's version of Egypt's Tahrir Square, as protesters look to sweep off the ambition of President Wade. Wade Dégagé (Get Out Wade) is the voice  on the street and as the days go by, that voice will ring through the continent and eventually the world. It remains to be seen if President Abdoulaye Wade, a man not short of influential friends in the West and Africa would yield to the voice of his people not to run for office at the ripe old age of 85 some 12 years after his first mandate.



For Senegal, long considered as one of Africa’s most peaceful and stable countries, 2012 looks to be the year that defines its path to the future. The rule of law will be the last cable that holds this proud African nation together. As this gets flouted each passing day as one man looks to perpetuate himself in power, the resistance can only get stronger. Opposition candidates are not taking it lying low, the people are already out on the street, arrests of opposition members are on the rise, at least one police man has been killed – a baby just got killed – even as the ban of internationally renowned music artiste and song writer, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour from contesting the elections by the same court that paved the way for President Abdoulaye Wade to contest, adds all the saddening hues to the crises in Senegal.


One man’s illegal and unpopular quest for power is not enough reason to have a country turned on its head. We call on President Abdoulaye Wade to tow the path of honour and allow the people of Senegal decide for themselves the man they want to lead them anew after his 12 year rule ends this year


To follow the protests in Senegal on twitter click on the hashing #wadeDegage #OccupySenegal and #Sunu2012 or tweet @omojuwa


Franklin Cudjoe is the Executive Director of Ghanaian Think  tank IMANI,  Senior Adviser and Columnist African Liberty.

Japheth Omojuwa is an associate of IMANI and the Editor of African Liberty

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