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Police fire tear gas at Senegal opposition protest

Protesters defied a government ban Wednesday and made their way to a square only blocks from the presidential palace, the closest that the opposition movement has come to the seat of power in two weeks of demonstrations ahead of next week’s election.

Senegalese police wearing helmets and fiberglass shields fired volleys of tear gas. The demonstrators dispersed, running into shops and across the dry lawn of the Place de l’Independance.

The country’s opposition had vowed to march on the palace in protest over 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a third term in the Feb. 26 ballot. Besides his age, many are angered by what they see as a violation of the constitution, because the electoral code was revised after Wade came to office to impose a two-term maximum.

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