28 June, 2011 - DAKAR - Senegal deployed troops at ministry buildings, armoured personnel carriers near the presidential palace and at least one helicopter gunship in the capital Dakar on Tuesday after riots over lengthy power cuts.
Many Dakar homes and businesses have been without electricity for more than 30 hours, catalysing anti-government sentiment in the normally tranquil West African state.
Overnight, demonstrators burnt tyres, blocked roads and ransacked the offices of state utility Senelec and ministers' homes, leaving debris strewn in the streets.
The riots followed anti-government protests last week after President Abdoulaye Wade tried to alter the constitution in a way his rivals said would make it easier for him to get re-elected in February polls.
"We're fed up with these blackouts, which create big problems in our lives on a daily basis," said Yancouba Diatta, a teacher. "We had great hopes for Wade when he came to power ten years ago. But he has not been able to fix Senegal's problems and we want him to leave."
On Tuesday morning, truckloads of gendarmes in full riot gear moved through Dakar's streets, and a helicopter gunship flew low near the city's African Renaissance monument, a controversial $27 million statue of a man, woman and child built by Wade in 2009. No clashes were reported.
Senegal has earned a reputation as West Africa's most stable and democratic country but is seeing rising public frustration over backsliding public services, particularly in power generation, since Wade took power in 2000.