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Senegal high court allows president to run for third term

Senegal's highest court ruled Monday that President Abdoulaye Wade [official profile, in French] can run for a third term, rejecting an appeal by the opposition. The Senegalese Constitution [text, in French] had no term limits when Wade initially took office in 2000, but it was amended in 2001 to impose a two-term limit. The court found that Wade's "first term" under the 2001 constitution did not begin until he was reelected in 2007, concluding that he is eligible to run for another term. The court also rejected an appeal by popular musician Youssou Ndour, ruling that he will not be permitted to run for president because he failed to obtain the necessary signatures [AP report]. Critics have accused the court of bias, since all five judges were appointed by Wade. Elections are scheduled for February 26. In response to this decision, the opposition has called on the country to protest Wade's candidacy, with demonstrations expected to take place later this week.

After the court's preliminary ruling on Friday, a group of youth protesters were confronted by the police, resulting in the death of one officer. With legal means of stopping Wade's candidacy now exhausted, the country may face instability in the coming weeks. The governments of the US and France have both warned of instability that could result from election-related violence.

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