Political rivals: Wade and Sall

The Senegalese minister of the Interior, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, has said that the February presidential election will still go ahead despite calls for it to be postponed.

Former President Abdoulaye Wade last week called for the election to be cancelled over fears they could lead to instability in the country. Wade is a fierce critic of the incumbent, President Macky Sall, who is seeking a second term.

Ndiaye, who is the minister overseeing the elections, said all the logistics for the elections have been put in place to ensure a free and fair election.

“We respect former President Wade, he is an elderly person. He has contributed in the national development of the country. We give him all his dues. We will protect always the security of the country.

“All necessary measures have been taken to ensure a peaceful election. Nobody can interrupt the election,” Ndiaye told journalists during a press conference in Dakar.

He added: “There are already 6,683,043 registered voters, 96% took their voters’ cards; 244,000 remain to pick their voters’ cards. There are 6,919 polling stations countrywide. We have sent 300, 000 voters’ cards to the diaspora.”

Senegal is going to the polls on February 24 in the first round of general elections with seven candidates shortlisted for the presidential vote.

However two leading opposition candidates, Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall, have been barred from standing.

Karim, the son of former President Wade, was barred from standing because of a previous conviction.

While Khalifa, the former mayor of Dakar, was jailed last year for fraud. His supporters believed the trial was politically motivated.

In a report last year, Amnesty International criticized the Senegalese government for cracking down on peaceful demonstrations and said the judiciary handling Khalifa’s case “showed lack of independence.”

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