DAKAR, Senegal: Senegalese riot police fired tear gas at protesters Friday on a main commercial boulevard in the capital, after the country's opposition went ahead with a protest in defiance of a government ban.
Demonstrators are calling for the departure of 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade, who is running for a third term in next week's election.
His actuarial survival is about five years starting at age 85. How long is the term of office?
The increasingly tense atmosphere on the ground has many concerned that there may be unrest if Wade is declared the winner of the vote. He has told reporters he expects to win with a clear majority.
On Avenue William Ponty, police used grenade launchers to throw volleys of tear gas down the wide boulevard, at one point hitting a mosque full of worshippers. Small groups of youths tried to defy them, with a dozen or so braving the police cordon.
They held their arms up in an X, a symbol used by the opposition to denote the bound hands of the people in this normally placid nation of 12 million. "Liberate the people," they screamed, before being chased back by the police.
Senegal is just a week away from a much-anticipated presidential election, the first in five years. Electoral law allows candidates to hold rallies in the pre-election period, but the interior minister issued a statement this week saying that he had refused to authorize the protests because of the threat to public order. He described the various demonstrations that have disrupted daily life in Senegal for the past two weeks as "a crime spree by vagabonds."
On Wednesday and Thursday, police sparred with the packs of protesters who set fire to tires, pulled down lamp poles, smashed signs and set alight the wooden tables used by market women to sell their wares. Abdoul Aziz Diop, a spokesman for the M23 coalition of opposition parties, said that their supporters had refused to respect the ban because it is unconstitutional.
A 61-year-old woman who is part of the opposition was led away by police, screaming as reporters crowded around to interview her. Madiguene Cisse had fought since the 1980s to help get Wade elected, and voted for him in 2000 when he first came to office, in an election that marked the end of 40 years of socialist party rule.
"It's not easy to uproot a baobab tree that has been there for 40 years," she said outside the central commissariat, after she was released. "At the end of our pain, we expected things to change. Wade -- when he was in the opposition -- used to tell the youth, if you don't have a job raise your hand. Well, our hands are still in the air."
The president, who is a few months shy of his 86th birthday, has angered the population by refusing to step aside at the end of his second term. If he wins the Feb. 26 election, he will be in office past his 92nd birthday in a nation where the average life span is 59. He is also running for a third term, even though he oversaw a revision of the constitution in 2001 that imposed a two-term maximum.
And just revised again. Funny how that works out in dictatorships. There's always a reason why the country needs the stability and leadership that only El Jefe can provide. Ask Pencilneck and Saleh...
Compared to demonstrations elsewhere in Africa, the ones in Senegal have been restrained. Four people have been killed in two weeks of unrest, compared to the death toll in election violence last year in Ivory Coast, in which dozens were killed in the same period of time. The violence here is jarring, though, because of Senegal's history, which has long been a model of stability in the region.
Unlike in Ivory Coast, in Congo, in Guinea and in Nigeria -- all countries where recent election violence led to a brutal crackdown resulting in a high death toll -- police in Senegal generally use only tear gas and rubber bullets to control the crowds. Even after a policeman was stoned to death with cinderblocks at a recent protest, security forces did not retaliate with anything more than truncheons, tear gas and water cannons.
But in a worrying sign on Friday, reporters saw a policeman open fire with a pistol after rioters hurled rocks at a police truck, causing one of the officers to fall off the side on Lamine Gueye Avenue. No one was hurt by the live rounds. People later retrieved the bullets, holding them up angrily in front of TV cameras.
Shopkeepers barricaded their stores and the vendors who normally hawk their wares on William Ponty were standing to the side, their goods bundled up.
"We are people that make ends meet by selling things on the street," said 60-year-old Mountaga Diallo, a plastic bag full of plastic bottles hoisted over his shoulder. "Our country isn't rich. There's no gold. There's no diamonds. ... This entire week, I've earned nothing. ... We can be poor, but if we don't even have peace than we are really in trouble."
Less than three months after Saudi Arabia said it would permit women to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games, it has reportedly reneged on their agreement, barring women from entering the Games.
The move will also threaten the country's overall participation in the Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee saying that all countries must field female athletes as part of their teams.
The decision has been roundly criticized by human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said in a press release that the move is counter to the Olympic Charter, which says, "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit."
HRW said it shouldn't be too surprising, however, as state-run schools offer no physical education for girls and only men belong to sports clubs in the country.
"In fact, government restrictions on women essentially bar them from sports," a new report says, HRW reported.
A senator from the state of Veracruz has filed another complaint with the Procuradoria General Republica (PGR) over the MP $25 million (USD $1.9 million) in cash seized at a Mexico state airport last month.
Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) senator Juan Bueno Torio filed a complaint Thursday demanding the PGR investigate the origins of the money seized January 24th at Toluca, Mexico airport.
Bueno Torio's complaint is the second one filed by a PAN politician. PAN president Gustavo Madero Munoz filed a complaint with the PGR January 31st requesting an investigation into the origins of the money.
Two Veracruz state political operatives were caught by Policia Federal agents attempting to transport the money aboard a Veracruz state owned aircraft January 27th. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte de Ochoa has protested from the start the money was intended for a private promotions company in Mexico to be used in three upcoming festivals. A contract was later produced by the company putatively receiving the cash showing an option for payment to be in cash.
However, since the two operatives, identified as Miguel Morales Robles and Said Sandoval Zepeda, were caught travelling on a Friday night, the explanation of a payment to be delivered on a Saturday doesn't track. Additionally, neither of the operatives were listed in the government directory of Veracruz state, which is a legal requirement.
Since the arrest, a standoff has developed between the Veracruz government which has requested return of the cash and the PGR which now has a second complaint demanding investigation into the origins of the cash.
PAN party operatives seem to be focussing on the nexus between the destination of the money, Mexico state,and its former governor frontrunning PRI presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto. Nieto has been the target of charges in the past in which he allegedly used public funds to help political campaigns in other states.
Mexico state is among the top five most heavily indebted states in Mexico, the same with Coahuila state ruled by another top PRI operative, disgraced PRI president Humberto Moreira Valdes, who oversaw an unprecedented run up in public debt -- the highest per capita in Mexico -- during his tenure as governor.
Moreira has also been charged by his political opponents with using part of the money to fund PRI political campaigns in 2010.
It was Madero Munoz piling on pressure along with other PAN politicians in Coahuila that eventually led Moreira to resign his post after only 10 months.
Governor Duarte de Ochoa has been charged in the past in Mexican press with being a part of a scheme of receive public monies from his predecessor, Governor Fidel Herrera Beltran, to aid in Duarte de Ochoa's run for governor of Veracruz in 2010.
Impeachment proceedings were implemented, it is said at the urging of president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, but ultimately too late to stop Duarte de Ochoa's election.
Durate de Ochoa has also been charged by a writer from Proceso leftist weekly, for hiring operatives to engage in "black propaganda" against his rival, PAN candidate Miguel Angel Yunes Linares. The funds allegedly used in that part of Duarte de Ochoa's campaign was routed through Argentine banks.
In Mexican elections, negative campaigning is illegal.
The German finance ministry is actively pushing for Greece to declare itself bankrupt and to agree a "haircut" on the bulk of its debts held by banks, a move that would be classed as a default by financial markets.
Eurozone finance ministers meet on Monday to approve the next tranche of loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, designed to stave off national bankruptcy while the new Greek government puts the country's finances in order.
But the severe austerity measures being demanded have caused such fury in Greece, and the cuts required are so deep, that Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, does not believe that any government would be able to implement them.
His pessimism has been tipped into despair with a secret European Commission, Central and IMF report that even if Greece made good on its promises, it would not be enough to reach the target of bringing total debt to 120 per cent of GDP by 2020.
"He just thinks the Greeks cannot do what needs to be done. And even if by some miracle they did what has been promised, he - and a growing group - are convinced it will not pull Greece out the hole," said a eurozone official. "The idea instead is that the Greek government should officially declare itself bankrupt and begin negotiating an even bigger cut with its creditors. For Schäuble, it is more a question of when, not if."
The German finance minister's comments are certain to plunge the authorities in Athens into even deeper gloom. On Saturday they tried to sound optimistic, with a cabinet meeting to thrash out the final details of an austerity package.
I think the cold realism of the German financial types is finally starting to overcome the idealistic fatalism of the internationalist Europhiles.
I still think that once Greece is out of the Euro, recovery will be much easier, with the ECB using the Papiermark => Rentenmark => Reichsmark model to get Greece out of the hole.
Using that model, the ECB could act as the wholesaler of *everything* Greece can export, selling it to the rest of Europe at a markup, which would go to Greece's creditors, yet still get Greece some income.
Then, anything the rest of Europe produces in abundance, say a good crop of something, can be sold to Greece at discounted prices. Thus allowing Greece to use its money for other things.
Once that situation is flowing smoothly, Greece will know what its "absolute income" is; how much money they have in the bank, as it were, and they cannot spend even a single Drachma more than that.
Then the Greek government tells the people to calculate out their budget: who gets what and how much. In the final analysis, then they can work up a dozen different budgets, all with the same bottom line, and have a referendum on it.
That last paragraph sounds good in theory, 'moose, but I'm not sure anybody in Greece knows what a budget is - let alone how to make one. :-(
Posted by: Barbara ||
Barbara and Germany.. let's be honest. Hosting the Olympics was the straw that broke the camels back and started the whole house of cards blowing down. The last industry that Greece had was Onassis shipping. When she married a Russian and then died.... the biz was then Russian. The only other industry is ag and with tradition and small farms... So... house of cards. (oh some call tourism an industry but it's a bit fickle for that... just ask Egypt or Mexico...)
Yeah, whatever. The basic problem is that the Greeks spend more money than they make. Period. No financial wizardry will ever cure that problem. Only the Greeks can do that for themselves, and it's obvious that they are incapable of doing it.
What's lost in this subtext is the responsibility of the lender. Yes, nobody forced Greece to borrow 200 billion euros (or whatever the true total may be), but then nobody forced the lenders to extend the credit in the first place.
Consider an individual who is a visibly poor credit risk. He would like to borrow money to blow on consumption and then stiff the lender, but since he cannot create credit, he has to live within his means.
Now a lender comes along who can create credit out of thin air (via fractional reserve banking) and offers this poor credit risk $100,000 in collateral-free debt at low rates of interest.
Who is responsible for the creation and extension of credit? The borrower or the lender? Answer: the lender.
And its the real problem with socialism publically, with communism dear leader can open the book of Mao and say the poor are blessed to toil the soil and should go there...quietly disappearing. This, there are no poor in the effect that all are graduates of star fleet and any sign otherwise is a failure of the core concept of socialism that is all succeed if given the opportunity. Without that fig leaf, those who promote collectivism just look like a bunch of assholes looking for a reason to snatch other people's money.
a few days ago Hillary made a statement against FGMutilation; if Hillary makes a statement against anti gay violence in UN context which makes it plain that it applies to the Islamic world, it should certainly raise our opinion of her a bit
of course, shouldn't Obama be making these statements too and in the same context
Posted by: lord garth ||
I have to give some kudos to the homosexuals living in some Muslim countries for having the guts to challenge the regime, but doing it smart enough to get away with it.
For example, in Egypt, a whole group of homosexuals would rent a "party barge" that would float in the middle of the Nile. Then they would hold a party.
When the police showed up in boats to bust the "homosexual party", they would see it coming from a long way away, destroy any evidence, and all deny that they were homosexuals and demand the police show evidence that they were.
When the police would point out that the only obvious evidence was that they were all men, they would to the police, and later in court, loudly protest, that to have a mixed gender party, by Sharia law, is clearly *immoral*, and they would never do such a thing.
Very crafty. And if found guilty by the Sharia court, while their punishment was not particularly great, they could then proclaim that both the police and the Sharia court were demanding illegal conduct between unmarried people of different genders.
Posted by: Barbara ||
"So bed-room monitoring is a legitimate role of the state?"
Apparently Bambi thinks so, BP. :-(
Not just Bambi; Santorum also has his panties in a wad...
Posted by: Steve White ||
I think the difference between B.O. and Santorum hinges on the extent to which they believe the state may legitimately interfere with personal sexual preferences. Santorum may have his panties in a wad, but I don't hear him calling for MORE regulation.
@ tipper (#8) so you're telling us that Mo'who had 12 wives, some as young as 10 years old, was actually gay?
It would appear so according to the hadiths at the link I provided.
Also he married Aisha when she was 6. He would perform frottage on her (placing his penis between her thighs and rubbing until he ejaculated) until she was nine then he commenced penetrative sex with her.