Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wades road to power

One year after President Wade of Senegal took power in 2000, he amended the country's constitution to impose a two-term limit for the presidency. He also reduced the presidential term to five years from seven, following the completion of his first term in 2007. After his re-election in 2007, President Wade promised to abide with the constitution and stick to the two-term limit, meaning he would not stand for election in the 2012 poll. He has though now announced plans to stand for a third term, saying the two-term limit did not apply to him because he was first elected in 2000, before the constitution officially took effect. Wade's candidacy for a third term has now been approved by the country's constitutional court. The credibility of the court has been questioned, as each of its judges were appointed by the president. Many people believe that the court is under Wade's influence, and that has prompted it to rule in his favour.

Wade also attempted to amend the constitution again, this time for his own good, by lowering the votes required to win the presidential election from 50 to 25 per cent. He however had to later backed down from the amendment, after thousands of people took to the streets in protest.

Wade's presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption and nepotism. Recently, he is said to have dished out millions of francs, and plots of land, to hundreds of his key party leaders. He has widely been criticised for excessive spending on what have been described as "prestige projects". This includes commissioning a 50m bronze statue (the African Renaissance Monument), for which Wade claims 35 per cent of all tourist revenues - because of his "intellectual property" in conceiving the idea!

Demonstrations have helped trigger a movement known as Y'En A Marre - French for "Fed Up!" They protest that since Wade took office, the prices of basic goods started (and have continued) to skyrocket, while the earning power remains stagnant or depreciating.

The polls are on February 26

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