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 all rallies of a political nature were being called off because of the death Wednesday of the No. 2 of the National Assembly Diawar Toure.
"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 demonstration Friday had been timed to coincide with one being organized by a coalition of opposition groups known as the June 23 Movement, named after the massive anti-government riots that spread across the capital this June. Mamadou Ly, a spokesman for opposition leader Moustapha Niasse, told The Associated Press that the group would go ahead with their rally Friday.
The opposition has been holding rallies on the 23rd of every month to call for President Abdoulaye Wade to step down. The 85-year-old Wade is attempting to run for a third term, exploiting a loophole in the constitution which states that the president can only serve for two. If elected, Wade would serve into his 90s.
Wade is in New York for the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly and was expected to attend an event Saturday at a university in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Widener Law School on Wednesday was forced to cancel the planned reception when Wade unexpectedly pulled out. The Senegalese Embassy sent an email to the organizers saying the president needed to return to Dakar urgently, said Joyce Davis, the president of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg which was co-hosting the event.
(This version corrects headlines.)