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Senegalese Musician Youssou N’Dour Enters Politics

MONICA MARK in Abidjan

HE IS the son of a car mechanic who began by hustling pirated CDs in car parks and went on to become one of the most influential recording artists in the world. Now Youssou N’Dour is putting his music career on hold so he can enter politics ahead of presidential elections in his native Senegal next February.

“I will free myself of all artistic commitments from January 2nd next year to enter the political arena,” N’Dour told a cheering crowd at the weekend. “For me, there are two Senegals. The Senegal of the have-nots and Senegal of the haves. My concern is the Senegal of the have-nots,” he said on his own TV station, TCM.

N’Dour’s plan has been greeted with optimism by many fans, but not everyone is thrilled. “The political class is scrambling around to figure out his next move,” said Amadou Diop, an adviser to Idrissa Seck, a former premier and opposition figure.

“Even if he doesn’t contest the presidency itself, his decisions are going to have a big impact. Anyone he throws his weight behind is going to claw a lot of votes. He’s loved by Senegalese, by music fans, and he’s a shrewd businessman who has created jobs – this is what the people want.”

It is not clear if N’Dour plans to challenge Abdoulaye Wade, the 85-year-old president who has been in power since 2000, but his declaration has stung politicians.

N’Dour has said Mr Wade – whose age is sometimes disputed – should not stand for re-election after winning two free and fair polls. Mr Wade has in the past tried to shut down N’Dour’s paper and TV station.


Irish Times

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