Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The ECOWAS Commission on Friday expressed ''serious concern'' over the rising tension among political parties and citizens in Senegal, ahead of the country's presidential elections next month.
In a statement made available to PANA here, the Commission said while it is satisfied with the ''democratic nature'' of the electoral process generally, it is concerned about recent developments in the political party campaigns in the run-up to the polls.
It called on all Senegalese stakeholders in the electoral process to preserve peace at all times and in all circumstances in their country, and also urged political and administrative authorities, political parties and all citizens to ''scrupulously respect and obey institutions and
laws of the Republic''.
The Commission also called on political party leaders, their members and supporters as well as all other political and social forces, to show tolerance and restraint, and to refrain from any incendiary language, verbal or written, which are likely to undermine public order and the electoral process.
''At the same time, the Commission respectfully appeals to the authorities to ensure that all citizens enjoy equal treatment and fundamental rights in accordance with the laws of the Republic.
''In the present circumstance, which is threatening to law and order, the Commission wishes to encourage all stakeholders to opt for dialogue, and consensus building with a view to the creation of a cordial and peaceful environment for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections,'' it said, and assured of its commitment to support the country for the successful completion of the electoral process and the consolidation of democracy ''in this valued Member State''.
Senegal's highest court was due to rule Friday on whether incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade can run for a third time in office.
Ahead of the ruling, the government had slammed a ban on public protests, which the opposition has also threatened to defy, worsening the tension ahead of the 26 Feb election, for which over 20 candidates have submitted their papers.
Earlier this week, Amnesty International criticized the five-day (26-30 Jan) ban on public demonstrations, while urging the authorities to respect freedom of expression and assembly in the run-up to next month's presidential elections.
-0- PANA SEG 27Jan2012