Senegal’s Opposition Unite Against Wade

Abdoulaye Wade seen here with his French wife

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, who asked for three more years to complete the Senegalese ‘renaissance’ his administration had begun in 2000, is not having a comfortable run-off campaign as opposition parties gang up against him.

On Sunday, the 12 presidential candidates who pulled out of the February 26 polls organised a mass rally to back Wade’s strongest challenger Macky Sall.

“It is the synergy of all our forces, our energy and out means. Together we will go and conquer votes, together we will win and together we will lead Senegal,” Sall told reporters.

Sall who was until recently prime minister in Abdoulaye Wade’s government had announced the launch of the Alliance of Forces for Change coalition on Saturday.

On Sunday the former presidential candidates organised a rally at the infamous Obelisk Square, the site where a month of violent protests against Wade’s candidacy began in the run-up to the elections, leaving six dead and over 150 injured.

During the first round of elections, all the presidential candidates racked up 60 percent of the votes while Wade claimed 34.8 percent of the vote.

Wade has been in power for 12 years and has changed the constitution to dodge a two-term limit he himself imposed.

The backing of Sall by the losing candidates threatens to change the guard in Senegal come March 25. But the unrelenting Wade has been soliciting the support of influential Muslim leaders, and he is determined to get another term to complete his work.

Fearing a repeat of political upheavals that have swept across north Africa, the African Union, the United States and France have urged Wade to retire, to which he has reacted with contempt. Until now, Senegal has been West Africa’s most stable country, politically.

Wade’s 12 year rule has seen an infrastructure drive in Senegal, with a few fanciful legacy projects.