Will Senegal's most famous Afropop artist Youssou N'Dour be able to rally young voters against President Abdoulaye Wade's effort to serve a third term, or will he just split the opposition?
With a fractured and crowded opposition field, that may be true. But what about a musician?
Youssou N'Dour is easily Senegal's most popular recording artist (to international audiences, he is Senegal's only recording artist). And if Monday night's announcement that he plans to enter the race is any indication, it appears he hopes that he can add "president" to his resumé.
The announcement followed one he made in late November, in which he said he would retire from music to dedicate his time to politics ahead of the controversial election. That announcement caused much speculation that would prove accurate.
The central issue in the election is a perceived constitutional assault. President Wade enacted a two term limit after his first election in 2001, and said that he would respect it after his re-election in 2007. Now the octogenarian president says that the law does not apply to him retroactively and that he is free to seek another term – a second by his count.
Wade faces massive popular opposition, but no clear political rival to challenge his hold on power – until now?
Time will tell. N'Dour may have no real political experience, but he has many things most Senegalese politicians don't: 30 years of virtually-unblemished popularity, extensive international (touring) experience, a Grammy. He even has his own television station in Senegal, on which he made his announcement.