Senegalese court spurns appeal, rules president can seek re-election

A Senegalese court has ruled that President Abdoulaye Wade can run for office again.

Story highlights

  • Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and 13 others will be on the ballot in February
  • The court denies an appeal from Wade's foes, who argued another term is unconstitutional
  • Musician Youssou N'Dour can't run, since he didn't get 10,000 "valid" signatures
  • The initial election ruling had spurred riots in Dakar that left one police officer dead
A Senegalese court late Sunday upheld an earlier ruling that the West Africa nation's president could seek another term -- despite questions about whether such a run was constitutional -- official media reported.
Two days after issuing its first decision, the court ruled on an appeal that President Abdoulaye Wade and 13 others can be on February's ballot, according to the state-run Agence de Presse Sénégalaise news agency.
But several others, including popular Grammy-winning musician Youssou N'Dour, will not be in contention because they failed to amass a required 10,000 "valid" signatures, the court decided. This, too, is in line with last Friday's decision.
That initial ruling set off riots in the capital of Dakar. Demonstrators set tires on fire and engaged in running street battles with authorities, with some protesters blocking roads by placing barricades in and around several city neighborhoods.
One police officer died in the violence, while a journalist was injured as police were trying to disperse crowds, according to a state news report.
Seven opponents of Wade appealed that ruling, contending that the constitution restricts any Senegalese president to serving no more than two terms. Wade took office in 2000 and was re-elected seven years later.
Senegal's current constitution took effect in 2001. The court ruled that, given that, only Wade's election in 2007 can be counted towards the term limit -- thus making it constitutional for him to run again.
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 February 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.