DAKAR, Senegal â€“ Senegalese police filed tear gas on protesters marching in the capital Thursday to oppose proposed changes to the constitution that critics say could benefit the longtime president and his family.
The proposed law lowers the percentage of votes required to win the 2012 presidential election, reducing it from 50 percent of votes cast to just 25 percent of registered voters. It also creates the post of vice president. Lawmakers met Thursday to consider the proposals.
The opposition charges that both moves are intended to help the ruling family. It could allow aging president Abdoulaye Wade, 85, to appoint his unpopular son as his running mate, creating a mechanism for his succession. Under the current constitution, if the president dies in office, the head of the National Assembly becomes president temporarily before new elections are organized.
Anger is reaching the boiling point in this normally stable democracy where the octogenarian leader is planning to run for a third extraconstitutional term. Discontent is growing because of power cuts that have become so frequent even bourgeois parts of the capital are now without electricity for as long as 12 hours a day.
“He wants to create a monarchy, this isn’t right,” said taxi driver Mamadou Drame. “He says his son is well-educated and a good boy. But we don’t care. We want our democracy back.”