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Senegal: A Week of Living Dangerously

[Note: This post was written by our author in Senegal before the dramatic events of January 31, 2012, which will be adressed in a follow-up article. All links are in French unless stated otherwise] 

On January 31, 2012, in Senegal, the opposition will take to the streets to protest a third term for incumbent President Wade. On January 27, the Constitutional Council of Senegal decided on the final list of candidates for the presidential elections on 26 February. 

The five elders on the council have accepted the nomination of Abdoulaye Wade, who is seeking a third term, an action considered unconstitutional by many Senegalese voters. Furthermore, the council denied the candidacy of the singer Youssou N'Dour, on the pretext that he would not have collected enough signatures to support his candidacy.

Since the announcement of these decisions on January 27, protesters have taken to the streets and sometimes violently expressed their anger. One policeman was lynched by the crowd on Saturday night. A video of the incident has gone viral on the Internet:

On January 30, two citizens were shot dead during protests in the northern city of Podor. The situation is tense across the country and also online. 

Ominous

None of this bodes well for the big rally on January 31. Although several members of the opposition movement, the Movement June 23 (M23), have called for peaceful and non-violent demonstrations, the excesses clearly give cause for grave concern, according to the conversation online.

Protesters as posted by @AnonymousAG on Twitter

Protesters as posted by @AnonymousAG on Twitter

The web site of the M23 went so far as to target people close to Wade, notably Farba Senghor, a consultant well known to Wade. On the Movement's Facebook page, they even posted an appeal [fr] for Senghor's address to be revealed, it seems, in order to carry out reprisals.

Si vous connaissez les adresses des residences de personnes suivantes, veuillez les communiquer: “Farba Senghor”, “Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye”, “Cheick Tidiane Diakhaté”, “Cheick Tidiane Sy”, “Ousmane Ngom” … nous allons diffuser leur adresse massivement sur google map pour que le Jour-J, les cibles seront identifiees avec precision.

If you know the addresses of the residences of the following, please contact us: “FarbaSenghor“, “Ndiaye Serigne Mbacke“, “Cheick Tidiane Diakhate“, “Cheick Tidiane Sy“, “Ousmane Ngom” … we are going to spread their address widely on google map for the D-Day, the targets will be identified with precision.

Some even used to Google maps to locate his residence:

géolocalisation sur facebook

geolocation on Facebook

Abdoulaye Wade, in the media and on his Facebook page, tries to defend a position of peace [fr]:

Chers internautes.

En tant que juriste, avocat et enseignant du droit, je dois être le premier à respecter la loi. Je suis non seulement un démocrate, mais aussi très épris de paix.Il y a eu des manifestations violentes, les guides religieux ont appelé à la paix et au respect de la loi, je serai le premier à suivre leurs recommandations la campagne va bientôt ouvrir et il ne voit pas ,Chacun aura l’occasion de se compter librement à travers les bureaux de vote où tout le monde sera représenté. Celui qui aura la majorité sera élu. C’est la meilleure manière de préserver la paix ,Le pays est en train de changer, il est différent du temps de Senghor, d’Abdou Diouf et même pour moi, ce n’est pas le même depuis 2000. Le pays est dans une nouvelle dimension, il va connaître beaucoup de changements sous peu de temps, et c’est ce que certains ne veulent pas admettre .
Je vous souhaite une nuit paisible dans vos foyers..

Dear Netizens,

As a jurist, lawyer and a teacher of law, I must be the first to obey the law. I am not only a Democrat, but I am also a peaceful man. There were violent demonstrations, religious leaders called for peace and respect for the law, I will be the first to follow their recommendations. The campaign will soon open and he does not see. Everyone will have the opportunity to stand up and be counted freely through the polling stations where everyone will be represented. Whoever has the majority will be elected. This is the best way to preserve peace. The country is changing, it is different from the time of Senghor and Abdou Diouf, even in my case, it is not the same since 2000. The country is in a new dimension, it will undergo many changes in a short time, and that's what some people do not want to admit.
I wish you a peaceful night in your homes.

Someone injured in the demontrations, by Twitter user @Boombasticplo

Someone injured in the demontrations, by Twitter user @Boombasticplo

But Wade's supporters themselves employ a tone tinged with hatred [fr]:

Sènègalaises,Sènègalais,pour prèserver le Sènègal du chaos que thèorise le M23 et ses manipulateurs tapis dans l'ombre des homosexuels amèricains et francais,soyons prets à dèfendre la Rèpublique contre l'axe du mal,par tous les moyens lègaux.
Barrons la route aux ennemis de la paix,en boycottant le M23 et ses activitès antidèmocratique et anticonstitutionnelles.
Faites passer SVP…

Senegalese people, to protect Senegal from the chaos suggested by the M23 and its manipulators lurking in the shadows of Americans and French homosexuals, be ready to defend the Republic against the axis of evil, using all legal means.
Let us block the road to the enemies of peace, by boycotting the M23 and its anti-democratic and unconstitutional activities.
Please spread the word …
Protester throws a stone, by Twitter user @theBoyA

Protester throws a stone, by Twitter user @theBoyA

January 31 will be a highly tense day; the net is already in uproar [fr]:

Au lieu d'envoyer les Forces Spéciales pour régler son problème en Casamance, Wade les met en état d'alerte pour mâter la population… ces gens sont des tueurs professionnels, entraines par des commandos israéliens. Si nous en repérons un qui tue un seul sénégalais, nous nous en prendrons directement à la sécurité de sa famille … un point un trait… tous les moyens son bons de la mise à feu de sa maison a l’empoisonnement au cyanure de ses enfants… à bon entendeur.

Instead of sending Special Forces to address the problem in Casamance, Wade puts them on alert to quell the population… these people are professional killers, led by Israeli commandos. If we identify even one who kills a single Senegalese, there will be direct reprisals on his family … period … by all means necessary, from setting his house on fire or poisoning his children with cyanide … don't say that you were not warned.

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