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Senegal violence 'very disturbing'

Feb. 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Reports from Senegal about violence ahead of a presidential contest this month are "very disturbing," the top U.N. rights commissioner said.

The United Nations said it had evidence that at least four people, including a police officer, were killed in Senegal this week after a constitutional council published a list of presidential candidates eligible for the late February contest.

Demonstrators poured into the streets after the court ruled President Abdoulaye Wade can seek a third term. Senegalese law imposes a two-term limit, though a court ruled that Wade can seek a third term because the measure was adopted after his inaugural election in 2000.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Senegal has a long record of peaceful democratic elections, calling on all presidential candidates to renounce violence.

"The reports of excessive use of force by police in response to violence by some protesters are very disturbing, given Senegal's tradition of respect for freedom of association, assembly and expression," she said in a statement.

Campaign season kicks off this weekend. Pillay said Senegal must respect the right to peaceful assembly during the election season.

"Anyone who has committed violent or excessive acts must be held accountable, whether a protester or a police officer," she added.

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