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France urges release of arrested Senegal protesters

France calls for the freeing of all those arrested in Senegal's anti-Wade protests

AFP , Monday 20 Feb 2012
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France expressed regret Monday over the death of a protester in Senegal and called for the release of prisoners arrested during rallies against President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term.

"France expresses its deep concern over the rising tensions in Senegal in recent days and laments the death of a protester during the weekend," a foreign ministry spokesman, Vincent Floreani, told a press briefing.

"France reaffirms its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly and calls for the freeing of all those arrested during demonstrations in recent days," he said.

Senegal's opposition has called for a new protest Monday, prompting fears of fresh violence days before polls in which Wade's bid for a third term has upset the normally stable nation.

Tensions are running high just six days before elections in the west African nation, a former French colony known for being one of the continent's pioneer democracies.

Fresh riots erupted on Sunday in which a young man was killed in the Dakar suburb of Rufisque, bringing to six the number of dead since protests began in late January.

Despite having served two terms in office, a limit he himself introduced, Wade says additional changes to the constitution in 2008 mean he can serve two more mandates.

Wade, 85, has brushed off opposition concerns as "temper tantrums" and derided criticism from France and the United States, which have both urged him to retire.

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