Senegal's opposition coalition rejects Obasanjo's proposal

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The opposition parties in Senegal have rejected a proposal by Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, urging President Abdoulaye Wade step down after two years, if he wins the election scheduled for Sunday, 26 February.

Instead, the coalition of the opposition politicians called for fresh elections without President Abdoulaye Wade within nine months, on the eve of polls in which the incumbent is seeking a highly disputed third term.

“The parties commit to organising a presidential election in which Wade will not take part, within six to nine months,” read a statement from the June 23 Movement of opposition parties and civil society.

M23 said it had examined a proposal made by Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo that if 85-year-old Wade wins the elections he will retire after two years in office.

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Obasanjo, Africa’s top envoy is in the country as head of an African Union observer mission and to defuse tensions surrounding Sunday’s vote.The call for new elections is one of a list of counter-proposals made to Obasanjo who met with Wade, opposition candidates and diplomats in the past week to discuss the current political crisis.

The west African nation, one of the continent’s democratic success stories, has been rocked by violent protests in the month leading up to the election since its highest court validated Wade’s candidacy.Wade has already served two terms in office, but he argues that changes made to the constitution in 2008 extending term lengths to seven years allow him to serve two more mandates.

M23, which includes the main presidential candidates, suggests that during the period leading up to new elections, talks take place to set up a new, independent constitutional council and electoral commission.They also want a review of the electoral code.There is no clear frontrunner among Wade’s 13 rival candidates and observers have warned of fresh violence if he secures a first round victory.