Jan. 4 - Senegalese music star Youssou N'Dour, a critic of incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade, has cancelled concerts to focus on becoming a candidate in upcoming presidential elections. Edward Baran reports.
For decades, Senegal's Youssou N'Dour has taken his music to audiences around the world. Now, he's swapping performance for politics by running for president. A decision he says was prompted by demands straight from the streets of the West African nation. SOUNDBITE: Youssou N'Dour, singer, saying (English): "For over 15 years I have heard this buzz going about for me. An overwhelming majority of the Senegalese people have asked Youssou N'Dour to run as president." "They want something new and I am the model, that's why the call to register my candidacy was extremely important. And as I think that everything I represent comes from the people of Senegal, I answered 'yes' and accepted to run in the 2012 presidential elections." Confirmation that N'Dour will run in February's election came after months of speculation The fifty-two year old has long been a vocal critic of Senegal's veteran leader Abdoulaye Wade. And on the streets of Dakar there was broad support for the star. SOUNDBITE: Cheickou Diedhdou, student, saying (French): "N'Dour is someone who loves his country, Youssou N'dour created employment here in Senegal, gave many Senegalese work, and I think he has a big ambition for the Senegalese people" SOUNDBITE: Abodulaye Diop, newspaper vendor, saying (Wolof): "If he can get in and tries his luck, maybe he can form an alliance with someone else, but I see him more in the position of senator or mayor." SOUNDBITE: Bakary Niassy, student, saying (French): "I give him my support for his candidacy today because Youssou N'Dour is a serious man, he loves Senegal and he works hard" Whether the man behind the world-wide hit single '7 Seconds' has time to turn his domestic popularity into votes next month is far from certain.... He joins a crowded pack of more than a dozen presidential rivals. And he lacks much formal education in a country which treasures intellectuals. But if he manages to wins this prize it will be one more glittering than any chart position. Edward Baran Reuters