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Senegal opposition urges uprising

Senegal's opposition has called on the population to rise up against President Abdoulaye Wade's decision to run for a third term, a move that foreshadows more unrest after a night of clashes that saw a policeman stoned to death in the normally peaceful nation on Africa's west coast.

The streets of the capital were strewn with debris, sign of the riots that spread from a central square to the interior of the country late on Friday after the country's constitutional court approved Mr Wade's candidacy in next month's election.

The constitution was changed soon after the 85-year-old Mr Wade took office in 2000 in order to impose a two-term limit.

He argues that because the law was not in effect when he was elected, it should not apply to him.

In a statement on Saturday, the M23 coalition representing all the major opposition candidates running in the election said the court had betrayed the people. "A black page has been written in the history of our country by the decision to validate the candidacy of Abdoulaye Wade," the statement said. "We are inviting the population to organise and mobilise themselves to face Wade. The combat has started."

Opposition candidate Macky Sall, a former prime minister under Mr Wade who is now running to unseat him, said they had given "the order" for people to take to the streets. He denied that future protests could turn violent.

Police spokesman Colonel Alioune Ndiaye said an officer had been killed late on Friday during the riots that followed the court's verdict. "I can confirm that one policeman was killed," Col Ndiaye said. "He was attacked and he was hit in the head by a brick. He was stoned to death," he said.

On Saturday, police detained Alioune Tine, a leading opposition figure who was the organiser of Friday's protest.

The other members of the M23 coalition attempted to visit him at the Criminal Investigations Division - including international pop star Youssou Ndour. The Grammy-award winning singer tussled with police after they barred him from entering by shoving him back.

Fourteen candidates were cleared by the court to run in the February 26 election. Among those whose applications was not validated is Mr Ndour, who according to the court did not turn in enough valid signatures on his petition. Mr Ndour is appealing against the decision, and after the fracas at the police station, he told reporters that the government is afraid of him.


From Belfast Telegraph