Senegal’s Elections: 2012 – February 27

Senegal’s Elections: 2012 – February 27

Posted On: February 27, 2012
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2/27/12 I headed off to Africulturban in the early afternoon after sleeping in for the first time in a week. Once I got there, I met up with Dia and we took a taxi to Simon’s house to meet with him and Gaston, another character you’ll recognize from the 2007 film.

 Gaston and Simon were watching news updates of the election results on TV. The same broadcast was played over and over with various talking heads giving their spin; an unfortunate byproduct of the globalization of American news media.

 

At 5 PM, Wade was broadcast live to make his state of the union address. Simon, Gaston and Dia sat motionlessly with their full attention tuned to the TV and radio simultaneously. They didn’t want to miss a word of Wade’s speech in case one of the news sources cut out. They watched in silence for the duration of the broadcast until they learned what they already knew: former Prime Minister Macky Sall and Wade were to compete in round two.

 

Wade is so remarkably out of touch, it makes one wonder whether his disconnect is a result of his old age or whether he is actually a sociopath. When Wade went to vote, he was greeted by a crowd of people booing him. He dismissed them as a bunch of babies having ‘temper tantrums’. He has casually referred to the multiple deaths and injuries inflicted by his police force as a ‘light breeze’. He is absolutely desperate to continue his grip on power, and this occurs nearly at any cost. The heavy presence of international observers and press is putting him on his best behavior for the time being (though his party PDS and a coalition for his re-election FAL issued a statement February 24th asking that Wade reject the participation of France and the US as international electoral observers, as the PDS and FAL finds them bias towards the opposition). Once the foreigners leave, and if the going gets tough with Macky, I’m concerned that Wade will allow things to flare back up to the dangerous levels of the past week or worse. Wade is playing nice for round one, but for round two – I’m afraid the gloves may come off.

 

To make matters worse, the opposition is still as fractured as before. For many in the opposition, they see Macky as a worse option since Wade’s old age means that he will realistically be president for another 2 – 5 years at best, while Macky is still quite young and has the potential to be in power for a decade or more. It would be sad, but it’s a serious possibility that the opposition might tacitly support Wade for an illegal third term just to block Macky from starting a long tenure in office. Such is the game of politics here in Senegal.

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