“We’ll put our candidatures together in the service of a united campaign, united, unified and focused on one goal: the withdrawal of Abdoulaye Wade’s unconstitutional candidature for a vote without him”, claimed eight opposition candidates at Obelisk Square, as they came together to inaugurate the campaign for the presidency that is slated for 26 February.
Having joined forces within the ‘Movement of June 23′ – the broad ‘coalition’ of parties, unions, human rights defenders and civil society – are leading candidates, including former Foreign Minister Moustapha Niasse, former Interior Ministers Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck and the Secretary General of the Socialist Party Ousmane Dieng Tanor.
During the meeting, which took place without incident at the square that has become the symbol of the protests, there was a call for the Senegalese people to “continue the mobilization of the people” and to “adhere to all the many initiatives that will be organized.”
A demonstration was planned in Rufisque, known as the “port of Dakar”, 25 kilometers south of the capital.
Saturday, in a joint statement presented to the press, the eight candidates launched a “final appeal to the president to withdraw his candidature in order to safeguard peace and stability and to save the nation a crisis with disastrous consequences.”
The popular singer Youssou Ndour, whose nomination was rejected by the Constitutional Council, has adhered to the front formed by the eight opponents.
For his part, President Wade chose to kick off his campaign in Mbacke (east), near the holy city of Mouride, one of the four most powerful Sufi brotherhoods that have a great influence in the country. According to some observers it was a “strategic and symbolic decision which reaffirms the link between Wade and the Mouride” in a land that has gradually became a bastion of his election.
Wade, in power since 2000, reiterated his conviction that “the protesters are insignificant compared to the millions of people who are on my side” and issued a warning to those who “disturb public order” during The campaign will run until February 24.
Inaugurating the campaign on the national TV broadcaster ‘RTS’ was Idrissa Seck.
For more than two weeks, the candidates will, one by one, take part in various venues every evening to present their programs.
The tension in view of the election has increased considerably in recent weeks, particularly after the final decision of the Constitutional Council, January 27, to endorse Wade’s candidature.
Dakar is the epicenter of events in which at least four people were killed, but people took to the streets in other cities, including Thies and Podor.
On 26 February, about five million voters will go to the polls for the first round of the presidential election in order to choose the next head of state among 14 candidates.