Legislative Election Campaign Kicks off in Senegal
The legislative election campaign in Senegal kicked off on Sunday, three weeks ahead of a vote that could recast the country's political landscape historically dominated by socialists.
Some 3,000 candidates from 26 political formations will be running in the polls on April 29, a year after veteran politician Abdoulaye Wade, an economic liberal, beat president Abdou Diouf at the ballot box and ended four decades of Socialist Party rule.
Wade dissolved parliament on February 15 and announced early elections -- which will see 65 deputies elected by majority vote in regional departments and another 55 national seats through proportional representation.
In March, Wade reshuffled his cabinet and named a new woman prime minister, Mame Madior Boye, after trouble with former coalition partners.
Wade dropped members of the former prime minister Moustaphe Niasse's Alliance of Forces for Progress (AFP) party and one of its small allies.
Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), which hopes to achieve a majority in parliament to push through much-needed reforms, has formed a coalition called Sopi -- change -- with various smaller, political parties.
The coalition's main contenders are the Socialist Party, which has seen many of its leading members defect since its historic defeat in March 2000 elections; the AFP which joined opposition ranks after Niasse was dismissed as prime minister on March 3; and the Union for Democratic Renewal led by former minister Djibo Ka.
Wade received wide support in January when Senegalese voters massively backed a new constitution.
Almost all politicians supported measures such as a cut in the presidential mandate from seven to five years, renewable only once. The constitution also included other social provisions such as promoting women's rights to property and outlawing forced marriages – DAKAR (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)