The campaigning has begun in Senegal where 14 candidates will square off in the first round of upcoming elections to pick the nation’s next president. Balloting will take place February 26 and a run-off will be held in March if no candidate wins half the total vote.
Tensions are high as opposition parties both jockey for votes and protest President Abdoulaye Wade’s decision to run for a third term, which many believe breaches a two-term limit set by the West African nation’s constitution. The nation’s high court, however, has ruled that the ban does not apply since it was adopted after Wade’s first term began in 2000. Some of the president’s rivals are demanding that he renounce his candidacy, which he has firmly refused to do.
Given the court’s ruling, the United States calls on all Senegalese to participate peacefully and actively in the political process, and build on Senegal’s strong democratic foundation. We condemn any use of violence, and will continue to support the people of Senegal by working with government officials and civil society to further consolidate democracy, and promote peace and stability.
As the United States has done for dozens of national elections throughout Africa and globally, we have allocated funds to train and deploy independent election observers for this month’s balloting, the March 18 run-off if needed, and the June 17 parliamentary vote. For its part, the government should ensure that the electoral process is free, fair and transparent, and that the voices of all Senegalese are heard.