Saturday, August 02, 2008

A return to the bad old days

Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade has been seen as a beacon of the much-touted African Renaissance since his election in 2000. He was one of the main proponents of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which basically tries to get African leaders to keep tabs on their own. Its motto is 'Democracy and good political governance.'

Yet Wade's rule has become increasingly authoritarian, according to some critics, going after both the press, the opposition and former allies.

Recently, pliant parliamentarians approved a measure to extend the presidential mandate from five years to seven.

Critics attacked the move not only on substance but on procedure. They claim that such an act can only be done via referendum.

Extending presidential mandates is one of the most common methods in particularly West Africa to create a monarchical republic.

Not surprisingly, main opposition parties criticised the move saying Senegal has now become a "monarchy", while others denounced the "numerous changes" in the nation's constitution.

According to a study of West African university professors, since Wade came to power in 2000, Senegal's constitution has been changed at an astonishing rate of once every six months.

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