Senegal's election is a little over a week away. According to critics, the aging but determined President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, hopes to hold on to power just long enough to hand it to his son.
But recent street protests are only about politics as a symptom of the underlying economic malaise, or at least that's what economist Sanou Mbaye argues, convincingly, in this article for the African Arguments website.
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"Wade turned out to be almost a caricature of the dozy African potentate for whom power, nepotism, and embezzlement become indistinguishable ... [his] shortcomings have also hurt Senegal’s economy. The 1.16 percent annual growth of the agricultural (which employs sixty percent of the country’s people) was quite insufficient to provide for a population growing 2.5 percent annually."
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Mbaye goes on to explain how Wade continues his quest to win a third-term presidency, despite the strict laws on term limits. He then asks the tough questions, leaving readers wondering which way a teetering Senegal will fall.
"Senegal’s longstanding political stability, successfully alternating political power over half a century, hangs in the balance. Will the time-tested democratic credentials prove their vitality in preventing the kind of electoral turmoil and violence witnessed in other Franc Zone countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon or Niger? This will depend on President Wade coming to his senses and withdrawing his candidacy, or the angry Senegalese electorate waiting peacefully to vote en masse on February 26 to oust him."