Obasanjo meets Senegalese opposition

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Obasanjo arrives at airport in Dakar

Obasanjo arrives at airport in Dakar

In a statement, Obasanjo said he would meet five of the 13 opposition candidates running against the country’s 85-year-old leader in Sunday’s election.

They include Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Moustapha Niasse, Ousmane Tanor Dieng, Idrissa Seck and Ibrahima Fall, as well as the leaders of M23, an opposition coalition.

Senegal has been rocked by daily protests ahead of Sunday’s presidential election. Protesters say they will render the country ungovernable if President Abdoulaye Wade, who is just shy of his 86th birthday, runs for a third term.

Obasanjo is in Dakar as head of a joint African Union-Economic Community of West African States observer mission.  At least six people have been killed in weeks of violent protests against President Abdoulaye Wade’s candidacy.  His rivals say his third term bid is illegal.

Obasanjo  who arrived in Dakar late Tuesday while police once again fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the capital is to meet the leaders of the M23 movement, which has organised the nationwide protests and wants Mr Wade to step down and not contest elections.

“My job here is, first, election observation,” Mr Obasanjo told journalists.

“And, second, to be proactive on behalf of our two organisations [AU and Ecowas] to prevent what is undesirable and unwanted,” he said.

Correspondents say hopes are running high that Mr Obasanjo will help restore peace in Senegal – but, he says, this will be a difficult task.

The country is often held up as one of Africa’s model democracies – it remains the only West African country where the army has never seized power.

In : World News