Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Senegal: Court Permits Candidacy for Third Presidential Term

(Feb. 3, 2012) On January 30, 2012, Senegal's Constitutional Court, the Conseil Constitutionel, determined that the current leader of the country, President Abdoulaye Wade, can run for a third term in office in the elections scheduled for February 26. A question had arisen because the country's current Constitution, as amended in 2001, sets a two-term limit. (Constitution du Sénégal, art. 26, Government of Senegal website (last visited Feb.1, 2012). The judges' decision was based on the fact that this limit was not part of the Constitution at the time Wade first took office, in 2000. (Sarah Posner, Senegal High Court Allows President to Run for Third Term, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Jan. 30, 2012); UN Secretary-General Warns Senegal, SEATTLE PI (Feb. 1, 2012).)

Opposition leaders in the country have objected to the decision, calling the judges, all of whom were appointed by Wade, biased in his favor. There have been protests and street violence in response to the decision, resulting in four fatalities, including the stoning death of one policeman. (SEATTLE PI, supra.) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged calm and asked “all political parties and national stakeholders to refrain from violence in the pursuit of their objectives and to pursue peaceful means to resolve all electoral grievances.” (As Political Tensions Rise in Senegal, Ban Urges All Sides to Refrain from Violence, UN NEWS CENTRE (Jan. 31, 2012).) He further urged the government to preserve the democratic traditions of the country and asked all concerned to enable “conditions for transparent, credible and peaceful elections that reflect the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the people of Senegal.” (Id.)

Idrissa Seck, a former prime minister who has served under Wade but who is now a candidate opposing him, denounced Wade's candidacy for a new term, stating, “[t]he constitution has been violated by Wade. … We need to remain on our feet in order to protect it. This constitutional coup d'etat by Wade is part and parcel of the ruling party's monarchic ambitions.” (Rukmini Callimachi & Sadobou Marone, Senegalese Court Rejects Appeal, Wade to Run, ABC NEWS (Jan. 29, 2012).) The Court also rejected an attempt by the musician Youssou Ndour to place his name on the ballot, ruling that he had not collected a sufficient number of valid signatures. (Id.)