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President Abdoulaye Wade's Challenge Of Senegal’s Constitution To Be Subject Of Upcoming Doc

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 19, 2012 7:05 PM
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Former president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade's second term in office saw the his popularity take a beating, as many were upset by the lack of progress in dealing with infrastructure problems in the country as well as rising inflation.

You might recall an item we posted here on S&A, which mentioned criticism Wade faced for his commissioning of a gigantic and expensive statue, later unveiled during Senegal’s 50th independence anniversary in April 2010, which Wade asserted that he'd essentially earned about 1/3 of any revenue generated by visitors to the statue, simply because he came up with the idea for it.

But that was just one matter of contention out of a handful; his proposals to ammend the country's constitution in his favor, also drew much criticism; Most notably, Wade announced his intentions to stand for re-election for a 3rd term, even though the constitution limited presidential terms to two, which he'd already would have served.

However, the country’s Constitutional Council allowed him to go ahead with his bid for a third term, which of course also drew much criticism, both in Senegal and and abroad, inspiring protests, although neither criticism nor protest stopped Wade from standing for re-election earlier this year, in February.

He would seemingly receive the most vote - almost 35 percent, in a field of a dozen other candidates - the closest behind him being former prime minister Macky Sall, who won almost 27 percent of the vote.

And because a minimum of 50% is needed in order to avoid a second round of voting, a run-off election between Wade and Sall was held a month later, which eventually led to an overwhelming victory for Sall, who won about 66 percent of the vote.

Wade then stepped down in April.

That entire fiasco, we could call it, will be the subject of director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who is in production on a feature documentary titled Mr President, promising an unbiased work of investigative cinema that captures the election and pro-democracy movement from both sides, 

Vasarhelyi, whose last film was the feature documentary also centered on a prominent Senegalese figure (the award-winning Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love), was 1 of 25 selected to receive a total of $550,000 in grants from the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and Fund (DFP) - a list that was revealed earlier this week.

Very little is available on the film for me to share currently, but it's now on my watchlist, and any updates that come my way will be shared. 

It immediately made me think of Jarreth Merz's An African Election, which was released earlier this year - a film that captures the suspenseful, behind-the-scenes, complex, political machinery during the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana. 

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