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Youssou N'Dour - the singer - takes on Senegal's long-serving president

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Anis Mili/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Singer Youssou N'Dour performs at a concert called 'Africa Celebrates Democracy' that pays tribute to Tunisian youth and the revolution that inspired the Arab Spring, in Tunis, Tunisia on Nov. 11, 2011.

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Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade has repeatedly boasted that there is no politician who could possibly unseat him in February's election.

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?


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