Police canvass Senegal's capital after clashes over presidential vote

Violence rocks Senegal
Violence rocks Senegal

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Violence rocks Senegal 01:34

Story highlights

  • Demonstrators and police clash in Senegal's capital of Dakar, killing one officer
  • Protesters were upset after court ruled Senegal's president can seek re-election
  • Critics argued that the constitution prevents Wade from seeking a third term
  • A popular musician, Youssou N'Dour, won't be on the presidential ballot
Truckloads of riot police canvassed Senegal's capital on Saturday, a day after violent clashes erupted after authorities ruled that the African nation's president could run for a third term -- and a popular musician could not run against him.
The riots in Dakar began Friday, when 14 candidates were declared to be valid candidates in February's presidential election. That lineup included President Abdoulaye Wade, but not one of Senegal's most popular musicians, Youssou N'Dour, according to the state-run Agence de Presse Sénégalaise news agency.
Also Friday, a court ruled Wade could seek another term despite the opposition's argument that the constitution limits him to two terms. He'd already been elected in 2000, and then again seven years later.
Seven presidential candidates formally pursued legal action Saturday in hopes of preventing the incumbent president from being on the ballot next month, Agence de Presse Sénégalaise reported.
While West Africa has a history of military coups and civil wars, Senegal largely has been an exception. It has never experienced a military coup.
However, political tensions have risen leading up to the upcoming election.
Last June, thousands of protesters clashed with police in Dakar after Wade proposed changes to the constitution that his critics alleged were meant to make it easy for him to win re-election. The alteration reduced the percentage of votes -- from 50% and 25% -- that a presidential candidate needed to win in order to avoid a runoff.
The tension appeared to boil over once more Friday night, when protesters set tires on fire and engaged in running street battles with authorities. Some demonstrators placed barricades in and around several Dakar neighborhoods, blocking roads.
One police officer died in the violence, while a journalist was injured as police were trying to disperse crowds, according to the news report.
N'Dour, who has many awards including a Grammy in 2005, told television network TFM that he wants to be president because he feels he has "a supreme patriotic duty to do more for my country."
One possible roadblock in his effort had been a constitutional clause that sets a minimum educational qualification of high school certificate to be able to run as president. N'Dour lacks a formal education.