Senegal protests
An anti-government demonstrator throws a rock during clashes with police in Senegal's capital Dakar, Feb. 18, 2012. Reuters

The President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade hoping for a third term in office will have to face a runoff in March. Wade could get lead over his rivals in a tight presidential race, but failed to get outright majority in the Sunday presidential elections. Wade, 85, could garner only 32 percent of the votes.

Wade's decision to contest for a third term had led to unrest in this otherwise peaceful country. Wade enjoyed popular support in his first two terms, but his popularity plummeted after he announced his decision to run for a third term. He was booed and insulted when he went to cast his vote at a polling booth on Sunday, according to a Reuters report.

Wade, who was critical of his opponents till elections, chose to say a few words of praise to his rivals after the disappointing election results. I would like to pay homage to you, my dear compatriots, for the maturity, spirit of tolerance, and the civility that you have shown, Wade told

Wade is expected to face Macky Sall, former Senegalese prime minister, who has the support of several of his rival candidates in the runoff. Sall got 25 percent votes in the Sunday election.

By choosing to contest for the third term, Wade in fact has bypassed the constitutional amendment that fixed a term limit for presidents, which he himself had introduced. Wade had justified his decision arguing that the law didn't apply to him as he had assumed office before the amendment came in to effect. His stance was endorsed by the country's highest court, in a verdict last month.

Protests and violence erupted in Senegal following the court verdict. Senegal is known as the epitome of democracy and has a history of peace and tolerance. Wade was once considered an undisputable mass leader in the region. After assuming office 12 years ago, he ushered development in almost every sector in the country. The ruling party is still popular for the development process initiated especially in the construction sector, according to an report.

But Wade's administration started losing ground during his second term as he failed to retain the economic momentum. According to a World Bank report, half of the Senegal population lives under the poverty line and unemployment is still widespread in the country. People also lost faith in him after he started infringing the country's laws and constitutions for his benefit. The court's verdict that allowed him to contest for the third term is being viewed suspiciously by the citizens and fears are mounting up in the country about a possible civil unrest if he succeeds in his third bid.