Music Superstar Youssou N’Dour Eyes Senegalese Presidency

Music star Youssou N’Dour has announced that he’ll be on the ballot for next month’s presidential election in Senegal, an open challenge to the African state’s long-standing leader Abdoulaye Wade. To put this in perspective, this is kind of like Neil Peart (drummer of Rush, owner of 400-piece drum set) announcing that he’s running as an Independent against President Obama in the 2012 elections.

N’Dour has long been a publicly vocal critic of Wade, who is hoping for an extension of his already 11-year stint as ruler of the west African nation. Wade is seeking re-election in February against a ticket of a dozen political hopefuls, N’Dour now among them. N’Dour announced his candidacy in a broadcast on his own radio and television station TFM (Television Futurs Medias).

“I am a candidate. I will engage in the presidential race,” he said.

N’Dour is immensely popular in Senegal, his musical career gaining his country’s culture world-wide attention, but will he be able to transform celebrity fame into political favor? He said Monday:

“For a long time, men and women have demonstrated their optimism, dreaming of a new Senegal. They have, in various ways, called for my candidacy in the February presidential race. I listened. I heard.”

Regarding his background, education, and qualifications, he said:

“It is true that I do not have a university education – but the presidency is not something you go to school for.”

N’Dour’s opponent, 85 year-old Wade, is surrounded by controversy, having bent the rules of new constitutional amendments in order to secure a longer term and his proposal of new electoral rules that critics say would allow him to hand power over to his son before his term is up. N’Dour’s criticisms of Wade are primarily aimed at what he perceives to be excessive and wasteful spending in a country with low employment and an average income of $3 a day.

Sounds vaguely familiar…

Your thoughts? Would you take a music star’s presidential candidacy seriously?

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