DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegalese world music star Youssou N’dour declared on Saturday he would cancel concert dates to enter politics from January 2 next year, a month before a tense presidential election in his West African country.
The singer did not explicitly say whether he would stand for president himself, as some supporters have urged. He also did not make clear whether he intended a definitive or merely temporary halt to his musical career.
February’s poll has been dominated by a noisy constitutional row over whether incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, has the right to stand for a third term in a country which prides itself on its record of peaceful leadership changes.
“From January 2 onwards, I am freeing myself from all artistic engagements to enter the political arena,” N’dour, 52, said in a live broadcast on his television station TFM at the launch of his movement, one of several formed to oppose Wade.
N’dour has strongly criticised what he calls the profligate spending of the Wade leadership in a country where formal employment is rare and average income per head is $3 a day.
The revised Senegalese constitution limits presidential terms to two, but Wade argues that this should not apply to his first term starting in 2000, as this pre-dated the amendment.
Wade backed down on further proposed changes to electoral rules in June after they sparked violent clashes between riot police and protesters in the capital Dakar.