Violence has broken out in Senegal in ways that we never imagined. Protests erupted in the streets of Dakar June 23rd when President Wade proposed changes to the constitution that would decrease the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election from more than 50% to 25% and that would create the position of vice-president. People believed that these changes were proposed in hopes of helping Wade win another term of presidency while letting him hand power over to his son Karim Wade. Read about it here.
Paul and I watched the local news broadcasts on the riots; Senegalese riot police and civilian protesters exchanged tear gas bombs and threw rocks at each other. Governmental vehicles were set on fire. The protests caused Wade to drop his proposed changes. Here is an interesting (in some instances funny) and biting article criticizing the presidency of Wade.
Then recently, protests erupted over the electrical shortages in Dakar, Mbour, and Thies. The power at our site Ndioum was going out regularly for at least half the day for the week before the riots. In Dakar, protesters burned several Senelec (electrical company here in Senegal) buildings to the ground. Click on the photo above to link to an article about these protests.
Also in the news, hundreds of muslim youths burn down a Jehovah’s Witness temple and a bar “in a rare instance of religious extremism in the predominately Muslim nation.”
When Paul and I learned about Senegal, we always read about its stable democracy and peaceful transfers of power. We never thought that the coming elections in February 2012 would be an issue. However after seeing the violence on the television, I am expecting the large cities of Senegal to erupt in political demonstrations this coming year. We may not feel or see anything of the sort where we live, but I expect this coming January and February to be an exciting few months for the larger cities of Senegal.