Senegal ruling party cancels opposition protest

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 9:41 AM
Senegal ruling party cancels opposition protest

Senegal's ruling party said Thursday that it is canceling all political demonstrations, an announcement that comes a day before the nation's opposition planned to hold a rally to call for regime change.

In a fax sent to reporters on Thursday, the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party, or PDS, said that the No. 2 of the National Assembly Diawar Toure had died in Paris on Wednesday.

"Due to the period of mourning that has hit the entire political class," the statement said, "the director's committee of the PDS ... is canceling all political demonstrations in its calendar until further notice, especially the one foreseen for Sept. 23, 2011."

The timing of the announcement struck members of the opposition as suspicious, and Moustapha Niasse told The Associated Press that he and other opposition leaders were in a meeting to decide how to proceed.

President Abdoulaye Wade, who has been in power for a decade, has been in New York this week to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

On Wednesday, he canceled an upcoming appearance at a Pennsylvania university. Widener University issued a statement saying that "unrest in Senegal has forced President Wade to adjust his travel plans for an earlier return home."

Wade, 85, has come under increasing criticism following his decision to run for a third term even though the constitution only allows two. In June, massive riots paralyzed the country after his party, the PDS, attempted to rush through a law that would have altered the constitution in a way which would have made it easier for him to be re-elected.

The normally fractured opposition has become emboldened, with many hoping that an Arab Spring-style movement could spread south to Senegal.