Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's outdated model of governance isn't working for his country.
President Abdoulaye Wade attends an awards event in the capital Dakar / Reuters
Wade wants a third term and he's arranged for Senegal's courts and constitution to comply. He has triumphed -- so far, and in part because Senegal's judges banned Youssou N'Dour, the wildly popular Woloff singer and bandleader, from competing against him. Now Wade seems destined to win another term on February 26. Or at least he promises he will.
Wade is a politician of persistence without purpose. He is neither puppet nor puppet master in Senegalese politics, but rather a triumph of form over content. His only credible achievements are negatives: Senegal has not had a civil war (like Sudan), not had an Islamic uprising (like Nigeria), not hosted a genocide, and not had a military coup.
For the Senegalese -- a people of great culture, dignity, drive, and committment -- not having this or that horrible outcome is no longer enough. They need progress, which their president since 2000 hasn't delivered. Wade must go.
At the age of 85 and after two desultory terms as president, he deserves a dignified glide into retirement, not another term at the head of this storied West African country. Under Wade's watch, Senegal has stagnated both political and economically. The country is one of the worst performers in the region over the course his presidency -- an especially poor performer economically and in rural development, compared to Ghana, which shares Senegal's history of relative ethnic tolerance, lack of crime, and military isolation from politics.