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Feb 25, 2009, 7:00 AM
APA-Dakar (Senegal) Senegal's National Assembly late on Monday adopted a non-retroactive constitutional bill adding two years to the current five-year presidential term of office, APA reports here.
The amendment concerns the first paragraph of Article 27 of the 22 January 2001. According to Senegalese officials, the bill does not apply to the present term of office.
Defending the text on behalf of the government, Senegal's Justice Minister, Mr. Madicke Niang said the rationale of the constitutional bill is to give to the next president, "enough time" to put in place his vision of society and implement his development programme.
"We need to build and manage our country, the minister said, dismissing the argument that any such modification of the Constitution should be made through a referendum.
"It is almost impossible to discuss this issue", he said, in response to opposition MPs who refused to vote this bill.
According to those MPs, the government should have consulted with the opposition, before tabling it before the parliament.
"At a certain point in time, you need to take responsibility and to move on", in line with "the vision and choices of the incumbent government", and I think that time has come'', Madicke Niang explained.
Since the country' independence in 1960, the duration of the presidential term of office has been changed several times, especially since the advent of the unlimited multiparty system in 1981.
It was limited to five years between 1988 and 1993 and to seven from 1993 to 2000.
Abdoulaye Wade, who was elected president in March 2000 for a seven-year term, decided to trim it down to five years, with no retroactive effect.
Meanwhile, he also decided that the president would be re-elected once.The bill adopted on Monday does not change this latter provision, but incumbent President Wade can, if he wants, seek re-election in 2012, as his first seven-year term preceded the Constitution adopted on 22 January 2001, in a referendum.