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Protesters and police clash in Dakar

Joe Penney / Reuters

An anti-government protestor holds a Muslim prayer bracelet as he gestures on his knees to the riot police during clashes in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 17. Senegalese police sealed off a main square in the capital Dakar and fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who gathered on Friday in protest against incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade's bid to seek a third term in a Feb. 26 poll.

Joe Penney / Reuters

Anti-government protesters throw rocks at police in Dakar on Feb. 17.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

A policeman reacts by firing live rounds from a pistol, after being struck in the head with a rock by anti-government protesters, during running clashes in central Dakar, Senegal on Feb. 17. The police fought running battles with protesters who hurled stones, burned trash and set up barricades along avenues in the city center, forcing businesses to close for the afternoon.

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters Friday on a main commercial boulevard in the Senegal capital of Dakar, after the country's opposition went ahead with a protest in defiance of a government ban.

Demonstrators are calling for the departure of 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade, who is running for a third term in next week's election.

Senegal is just a week away from a much-anticipated presidential election, the first in five years. Electoral law allows candidates to hold rallies in the pre-election period, but the interior minister issued a statement this week saying that he had refused to authorize the protests because of the threat to public order.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this blog post

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Joe Penney / Reuters

A riot police officer looks at a boy he arrested during clashes with anti-government protesters in Dakar an Feb. 17.