Senegal News: Deadly protests against Wade

Police remained on high alert Wednesday in Senegal after protests Tuesday in which two people were killed.

The demonstrators took to the streets to oppose what they are calling a “constitutional coup d’état” by President Abdoulaye Wade, according to Agence France-Presse.

Protesters are calling on Wade to relinquish his bid for a third term in the upcoming Feb. 26 elections, saying a court decision to allow him to run is illegitimate.

Amnesty International says three people have been killed in protests since Friday and one prominent activist, rap singer Daddy Bibson was detained for 10 hours. Amnesty has urged Senegalese authorities to investigate the deaths, in addition to the beatings of three journalists. Amnesty reports:

“One young male protester and an elderly female bystander were shot dead by the gendarmerie, who opened fire on a crowd demonstrating against the Constitutional Council decision to uphold President Abdoulaye Wade's right to stand for a third term in next month's election.”

The court decided that Wade could run for a third term last week, despite the fact that the constitution limits the presidency to two terms. Protests erupted after the decision was announced Friday.  And on Monday, objectors lost their last appeal in the courts, prompting additional demonstratons.

The court says Wade can run again because the clause that prevents a third bid was not in place when he took office in 2000, according to the BBC. Amadou Sall, Wade's campaign spokesman, said the people have the right to peacefully protest, but warned that the police force does not have the “elements” to control violence.

"Every five years the Senegalese citizens have the right to express themselves… on 26 February if they decide they don't want no more Abdoulaye Wade for president, Abdoulaye Wade will not be president, so it's all in their hands," Sall told BBC.

Also on late Monday, the court ruled that singer Youssou N'Dour and two other would-be opposition candidates could not run, according to the BBC.

The United States expressed concern about escalating tensions in Senegal, Voice of America reports. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said Wade's decision to seek a third term could damage Senegal’s “spirit of democracy” threatening its political stability.

"We are concerned that the decision by President Wade to seek a third term … could jeopardize the decades-long record that Senegal has built up on the continent for democracy, democratic development and political stability," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told a teleconference, according to Reuters.

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