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Senegal opponents protest bad governance, power cuts, floods

by Staff Writers
Dakar (AFP) Aug 14, 2010
Around 1,000 Senegalese opposition supporters took to the streets on Saturday to protest President Abdoulaye Wade's regime, saying they were fed up with power cuts, floods, and rising food costs.

"In the dark ... We are fed up" read a poster carried by a woman holding a paraffin lamp in her other hand -- indicative of the sentiment in the west African country after weeks of power cuts in the hottest season.

Lawmaker Fatou Toure Ndeye, a member of Benno Siggil, an alliance of Senegalese opposition parties who planned the march in the capital Dakar, told AFP: "We are here because our people are suffering."

"The cost of life is increasing, it is the middle of (the fasting month of Ramadan), it is the hot, rainy season, there is no electricity and we are exposed to malaria," she said.

The annual power cuts come at a time of flash downpours brought on by the rainy season, causing flooding in the suburbs and raising ire among communities.

Previous protests around Senegal have led to clashes with police as angry crowds take to the streets burning tyres and barricading streets.

The marchers, bearing pamphlets and banners, also denounced "scandals, impunity and incompetence" by Wade's regime, slamming what is seen as his attempt to groom his 41-year-old son Karim Wade to "inherit" the presidency.

Senegal's third president, the 84-year-old Wade has been in office since 2000 and announced last year that he planned to run again in 2012. Karim was named minister in the government in May.

"We are a traditionally democratic country, we want to have a democratic election, a transparent election. We don't want an unconstitutional change of power," said Ndeye.

Government spokesman Mamadou Lamine Keita told a press conference on Friday the march was "an intolerable cowardly act" as the electricity crisis was "in the process of returning to normal," a local newspaper reported.

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