Monday, January 30, 2012

Unrest in Dakar...and a splendid weekend avec ma petite niece, Marie Jeanne

The situation regarding the elections got a bit tricky this weekend.  On Friday evening, the constitutional council announced that President Wade does indeed have the right to run for a third term.  It also stated that Youssou N’Dour, a famous popular singer here in Senegal, cannot run. This was not received particularly well by many people here in Dakar, and particularly not received well by the younger generation.  Hundreds of people were stationed at the obelisk in the center of the city awaiting the release of the decision.  There were a few demonstrations after the release of the decision, one of which resulted in the death of a policeman. 
President Wade is already 85ish years old, which makes his bid for another 5 year term slightly problematic.  Previously, he tried to pass legislation that would allow him to have a vice president (almost definitely with the intent of awarding this position to his son), but a large protest that threatened to storm the legislature building put a stop to that.  Wade’s son did not even win the mayoral elections in Dakar. He spent a considerable amount of time in France and supposedly does not even speak Wolof, which makes it a bit strange to think of him as mayor of Dakar.  Some people here in Dakar assume that a third term for President Wade would actually look more like a non-official term for his son.  The same group of protesters (named M 23 in honor of the date of the previous demonstration against the establishment of a VP) have gathered forces against his more recent bids for power.

Our study abroad program, as well as the US embassy, cautioned us to remain at home during the weekend.  As much as I would have liked to have witnessed some of the things that were going on, it was probably best that I remained at home.  My host brother’s daughter Marie-Jeanne was over for the weekend which made things all the more enjoyable!  She is five and just started learning French at primary school.  Her limited knowledge of French coupled with my struggles with Wolof made for some funny moments.  However, we quickly realized that dancing knows no language barriers, so we spent quite a bit of time perfecting our moves.  So, despite the situation in the city, my weekend proved to be quite peaceful!

Here’s a link to the bbc article on the situation…though I feel like it makes it seem more extreme than the sentiment that I am getting here in Dakar.
What should be really interesting is what happens if Wade wins the elections come February.

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