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Senegal apology amid protests against Abdoulaye Wade

BUSINESS
By | Feb 20th 2012 | 2 min read
By | February 20th 2012
BUSINESS

Senegal's government has apologised for a "police blunder" after tear gas was fired near a mosque amid protests against President Abdoulaye Wade's re-election bid.

One person reportedly died on Sunday February 19 after a demonstration to condemn Friday's tear-gas incident in Dakar.

Six people have now been killed in anti-Wade protests this year, local media say.

Anti-government protestors run from tear gas in Senegal's capital Dakar in protest against the candidacy of incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade in the February 26 presidential poll. Photo: Reuters

Despite the protests, Mr Wade, 85, is standing in Sunday's election.

He is seeking a third term after first winning elections in 2000.

Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom apologised after tear gas drifted inside a mosque where people were praying on Friday.

"I would like to present, in my personal name and on behalf of the highest authorities of national police, our most sincere apologies to the caliph" of the Tidiane brotherhood (Senegal's largest) and his followers, he told the Senegalese Press Agency (APS).

He also urged politicians not to hold protests near mosques in the mainly Muslim nation.

Sunday's protest outside the mosque turned violent with hundreds of demonstrators setting up burning barricades and throwing stones at the police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, according to the AFP news agency.

The protests began on a main road in central Dakar but later spread around the capital.

One young man was killed in Rufisque, just outside Dakar, while a tailor died of his injuries in the central town of Kaolack on Saturday, APS reports.

Senegal has now seen five consecutive days of clashes.

The country is often held up as one of Africa's model democracies - it remains the only West African country where the army has never seized power.

But protests broke out in January after the country's highest court ruled that Mr Wade could seek a third term and banned singer Youssou Ndour from standing.

The constitution limits heads of state to two terms in office but the judges ruled that Mr Wade's first term did not count as this was before the limit was introduced.

Once a veteran opposition leader himself, Mr Wade, 85, was first elected in 2000 - ending 40 years of rule by the Socialist Party.

-BBC

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