With Senegalese local and municipal elections scheduled for May, opposition parties feel the body responsible for overseeing the vote is not autonomous enough to carry out its tasks in an impartial manner.
Moustapha Niasse, who ran against Abdoulaye Wade for president in Febrauary 2007 under the banner of Alliance Forces for Progress, AFP, would like to change the National Autonomous Electoral Commission, CENA, before voting begins. After running in the Presidential contest, a group of opposition parties formed a coalition known as the Siggil Senegal Front and boycotted the June parliamentary elections, citing irregularities in the Presidential vote.
President Wade’s party, Senegalese Democratic Party, won 131 out of 150 seats in the National Assembly.
The election commission, accused of allowing frauds to take place, defends itself and accuses opposition parties of spending their time criticising its work, instead of working constructively.
But, faced with strong criticism, the commission released earlier this month a 79 -page report indicating the 2007 parliamentary elections were "conducted in a generally correct and acceptable manner". The body also argued that it performed its tasks "seriously and rigorously".
However, in the same report, the commission mentioned that: "Although these elections were conducted peacefully, they had a somehow bitter taste because of the opposition's decision to boycott."
Since the report was released, opposition parties have gone one notch up in their attacks against the commission, amplifying any petty detail contained in the CENA's document which mentions a flaw in the system.