Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Police repression in Senegal

Senegal was once thought of as a vanguard of the so-called African Renaissance but that impression may be crumbling. President Abdoulaye Wade has been trying to mess with poll dates, much to the consternation of the opposition. Legislative elections were originally slated for 2005 but were rescheduled to this year. Presidential elections were slated for next month but Wade is trying to move them as well. Critics contend that Wade is afraid that the country's shaky economy will cost him votes.

Opponents held a rally this weekend demanding that elections be held as scheduled but were attacked by police wielding electric batons.

Several opposition leaders, including Wade's former ally and prime minister Moustapha Niasse, were roughed up and briefly thrown in jail.

The police director of national security defending the actions of the authorities saying that protesters did not have permission to march.

Wade spent nearly 20 years as Senegal's main opposition leader and often took part in protests that were violently broken up by former ruling Socialist Party.

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