Senegal and US meet over diplomatic ties

Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade met with the US ambassador to Dakar who last week criticised his third term candidacy and was summoned by government, the presidency said on Tuesday.

The president “wanted to discuss the position of the United States on the political situation in Senegal ... marked by the fact that the opposition parties are themselves taking part in the electoral campaign.

“In his response the ambassador [Lewis Lukens], taking into account the new context of participation of all the candidates, declared that the United States never asked President Wade to leave and supports no candidate,” read a statement.

Lukens said his country simply wants a “peaceful, transparent and democratic” election, it added.

Interviewed by state television after leaving talks with Wade, Lukens spoke of a “productive” meeting.

Critical interview
On February 7 Lukens was summoned by Foreign Minister Madicke Niang after a critical interview given to local media.

“It is regrettable that Wade has chosen to compromise the elections, to put the security of his country in peril by insisting on seeking a third mandate,” Lukens said in the interview.

“As one of the eldest heads of state on the continent he has the opportunity to pilot democratic change, to hand over to a new generation of leaders,” he added.

Earlier state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said “the statesmanly-like thing to do would be to cede to the next generation and we think that would be better.”

The opposition says Wade’s bid for a third term as president in February 26 polls is unconstitutional but the president argues constitutional changes in 2008 allowing longer terms mean he can serve two fresh seven-year mandates.—AFP


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