Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Senegal's capital of Dakar remains jittery, with youth and police locked in running street battles.

Riot police are firing tear gas on rock-throwing protesters who oppose President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term in office. With a week to go until the presidential vote, opposition demonstrations have been banned, but crowds have taken to the streets and the atmosphere is becoming increasingly tense.

Some of the protests have been led by rap artists. They have been mobilizing the youth and putting pressure on Senegal's leader to step down.

The Senegalese are known for campaigning loudly, musically and enthusiastically, yet the country's reputation for democracy and stability in turbulent West Africa has taken a knock as it prepares for elections on Feb. 26.

When Senegal's top court gave its blessing last month to President Abdoulaye Wade's third-term ambitions, his opponents angrily took to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval.

Senegal was tense as police clashed with protesters demanding that the president withdraw his candidacy.

A radical Islamist group in northern Nigeria has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bombing attacks last week that left more than 200 people dead. Boko Haram's campaign of violence has left minority Christians on edge in the city of Kano.

Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's Muslim north, is an ancient, sprawling city of more than 9 million. Last Friday, the Muslim day of prayers was shattered by a series of coordinated bomb blasts.

Just down the street from one of the main market areas in the city, the street remains blocked off from a police station hit in the attacks. The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

Sagir Ali, a security guard at a parking lot at the market, says he watched as nearby government offices were attacked.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is facing the most sustained challenge to his presidency as he confronts crises on two fronts.

His government recently removed fuel subsidies, which has sent transportation costs soaring and prompted nationwide strikes that were in their third day Wednesday.

And a radical Muslim group is warning of renewed sectarian violence in a country that has a roughly equal split between Muslims and Christians.

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour made his name in music, and now he wants to be president of his homeland.

N'Dour gained an international audience in 1994 with his hit song "Seven Seconds," with Neneh Cherry. He went on to earn a Grammy in 2004 for the album Egypt, becoming one of Africa's most influential and popular singers.

A disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo has returned sitting President Joseph Kabila to power for the next five years. The opposition claims there was election fraud. Congo's influential Catholic church has voiced reservations about the conduct of the elections.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On November 28th, elections were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were only the second democratic polls in the nation's turbulent half-century of independence, and even before voters went to the polls there were signs that all was not well.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Violence marred the run-up to the actual voting day, so polling was extended in some areas up to three days. Opposition candidates said the election itself was tainted.

The Democratic Republic of Congo holds elections for president and parliament Monday. These are the second elections since a long dictatorship ended in 1997. Elections held in 2006 represented a transition to democracy.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Voters in the Congo head to the polls at the end of this month. The campaigning has been beset by violence which threatens to undermine an electoral process in a giant nation that's at the heart of Africa. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Campaigning took a stormy turn when veteran Congolese opposition politician and presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi sent a bombshell. He proclaimed himself president and ordered his supporters to stage jailbreaks to free their detained colleagues.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Yet another foreign army has sent its troops into Somalia.

INSKEEP: Many years ago, American troops took positions there.

MONTAGNE: More recently, forces from neighboring Ethiopia, with U.S. backing, have moved against Islamist groups.

Moammar Gadhafi styled himself as Africa's king of kings and long pursued his grand plan to unite the continent under his rule. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports on how his brutal end is resonating in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fresh from winning the Nobel Peace Prize, was hoping for an outright re-election victory last week.

But Africa's first democratically elected female leader is facing a runoff election next month. She says she is confident Liberians will vote for her in big numbers, but the first-round voting last Tuesday shows she is facing stiff competition after six years in power.

Liberians go to the polls Tuesday to elect a new president and lawmakers in the second key elections since the end of the civil war in 2003. The incumbent leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa's first democratically elected female president — was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, but her opponents say she deserves neither the award nor re-election.

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