SENEGAL: President Withdraws Poll Bill as Police, Protesters Clash
Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade backed down on a proposed change to the country's election rules on Thursday, completely withdrawing a bill that sparked running clashes between riot police and protesters in the capital.
Wade's rivals said the proposed change would have guaranteed his re-election against a fragmented opposition in a February poll and had threatened a popular uprising over it in a country long seen as an island of stability in West Africa.
Analysts said the reversal also showed how effectively the opposition and civil society groups could mobilize anti-Wade sentiment amid simmering social tensions in the country.
"The president received messages from far afield, especially our religious leaders, and, as a result, he called on me to withdraw the law," Justice Minister Cheikh Tidiane Sy told the National Assembly.
Wade had earlier withdrawn a proposal to reduce from 50 to 25 percent the minimum score that a candidate would need to win next year's election in the first round -- a level Wade's rivals said would have virtually assured him a first-round win against his fractured opposition. Reuters (23 June 2011)