African Union Commission Chairperson, Mr. Jean Ping, has deployed an Observers Mission to Senegal within the context of the upcoming Presidential Elections to be held on 26 February 2012.
The African Union Observers Mission arrived in Dakar on 18 February 2012. The Mission is headed by M. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and established its headquarters at Radisson Blu hotel.
Following the reported pre-electoral violence in Senegal, the current AU Chairperson, M. Thomas Yayi Boni, called upon “all political actors and stakeholders to remain calm”. He exhorted them to “start an inclusive political dialogue in order to ensure a peaceful and transparent electoral process to consolidate the remarkable achievements of Senegal during its contemporary period as well as its path towards democracy”.
AU’s Observers Mission is composed of members of the pan African Parliament, leaders of the National Independent Electoral Commissions, members of the AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), representatives of Human Rights organizations and African civil society. This Mission will operate following the relevant provision of the Durban Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, adopted in July 2002, by the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union.
A presidential election is scheduled to take place in Senegal on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Several people have been killed since the street clashes began late last month after Wade's candidacy was validated by the country's top legal body. The 85-year-old Wade, who came to power in 2000, is insisting on running again, despite the deepening unrest and calls from both France, Senegal's former colonial master, and the US to hand power to the next generation.
Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until current President Abdoulaye Wade was elected in 2000. He was reelected in February 2007 and has amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition, part of the President’s increasingly autocratic governing style. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation.