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Opposition joins forces to back Wade challenger

DAKAR — Senegal’s opposition joined forces Sunday in a massive rally to block 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade from landing a third term in office and back challenger Macky Sall.

The 12 presidential candidates who fell out of the running in a first round of voting on Feb. 26 have formed a coalition they hope will usher Mr. Sall, a former prime minister, into power.

Mr. Wade is facing a stiff battle to retain power at the March 25 poll after a strong opposition showing crushed his hopes of overall victory in the first round and forced him into a runoff.

Sunday’s rally took place at Obelisk Square, where a month of violent anti-Wade protests began in the run-up to the election, leaving six dead and more than 150 injured.

The election in a country known as a haven of stability in troubled West Africa is being closely watched by foreign allies concerned about one of their reliable African partners.

Mr. Sall, 50, on Saturday announced the launch of the Alliance of Forces for Change coalition that will back him in the runoff election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports