Senegal election run-off: Opposition unites to defeat Wade

President Abdoulaye Wade predicted that he would win a third term in the February 26th presidential election with a “crushing majority” but has had to concede that there will be a run-off vote – probably on March 18th.  The chances of him winning in a run-off are reduced because the opposition will no longer be split between multiple candidates. 

The election was preceded by weeks of protests calling for the leader’s departure. Wade, who has spent 12 years in power, in January circumvented a two-term limit he himself introduced to seek re-election, sparking the angry protests in which six people died.

Wade came in first with 34.85 percent of Sunday’s vote while his highest scoring rival Macky Sall had 26.57 percent. The results were a massive setback to Wade who lost a million voters compared with the 2007 election, which he won in the first round.

The opposition has urged voters to rally behind Macky Sall, a former prime minister and Wade protege. The June 23 Movement (M23) urged its members, including failed presidential candidates, to “prove their patriotism and put aside their personal problems for the superior interest of Senegal”. The influential rapper-led movement Y’en a Marre  (Fed Up) also signed up to the pro-Sall campaign. They say they know Sall does not have a clean slate but that they can work with him and, in the interest of the country, Wade must be ousted. If Sall lets the country down, then he will be ousted too.

Youssou Ndour, whose own bid for the presidency was rejected by the courts in January, agreed to support Sall, after the two had a meeting in Dakar. “Youssou Ndour has one rallying cry, that Wade gets out,” M23 spokesman, Aliou Ndiaye said.

Youssou N'Dour (Picture: Henryk Kotowski)

Wade was booed when he went to vote in his home precinct. “Old man, get lost” people chanted – the chorus of a song composed by anti-Wade rappers.  It’s a sad chapter in the career of a man whose election in 2000 was held up as an example of Senegal’s democratic maturity, not least because former president Abdou Diouf gracefully accepted Wade’s victory and telephone him to concede defeat. This was a gesture that was unheard of in Africa at the time.

Y’En A Marre- the Rebellious Rappers

“Y’en a marre”  = “Fed Up” or “Had Enough”

Members: Civil society, journalists but, at the core, rappers – using music to get their message across. They include names like the group Keur Gui and  Fou Malade. They aim to go beyond protest by promoting the idea of a “new type of Senegalese”  who will be more politically engaged and will live in a different way

Origins: The movement was launched in January 2011, but the turning point was on March 19th  – the 10th anniversary of President Abdoulaye Wade’s accession –  marked by a huge gathering against the “stolen elections”.

The Dogali Plan: The movement has announced its intention of “finishing Wade off” at a Dakar press conference. It is asking all its members and all those who believe in their ideals to stay vigilant and to vote massively in the second round against Wade – who they blame for the ills that they’re fed up with. The Dogali plan is an overall action plan which includes a gathering on March 3rd.

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