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Senegal: How not to defuse a protest

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade calls the latest round of protests to his continued rule "no more worrying than a light breeze."
senegal protests 3rd term 02 02 2012Enlarge
A protester lights a fire on Jan. 31, 2012 in Dakar during a demonstration demanding that President Abdoulaye Wade drop plans to seek a third term. Senegal riot police fired tear gas and sprayed protesters with water to break up the thousands-strong rally. (Seyllou Diallo/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — If you're hoping to stay in power until you're 90 and face youth-led street protests, then talking like a patronizing old schoolmaster is not a clever idea.

More from GlobalPost: Protests continue against President Abdoulaye Wade

Last week's court decision to allow Senegal's 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade to run for another term in office and block some opponents, including the popular singer Youssou N'Dour, sparked a series of angry protests-cum-riots in which three people have so far been killed by security forces. Wade dismissed the first demonstrations as "temper tantrums," and has now insisted the groundswell of opposition to his continued rule is no more worrying than a light breeze.

"A breeze is a light wind which rustles the leaves of a tree, but never becomes a hurricane," he said.

Comments like these show how out-of-touch the aging leader has become and may well inflame, rather then dampen, his opponents fervor.

More from GlobalPost: Senegal frees activist Alioune Tine, braces for fresh protests

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa/senegal-news-how-not-defuse-protest

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