Dakar: Senegal's opposition has called for popular resistance against President Abdoulaye Wade as the country reeled from riots that erupted after the top court said he could run for a third term.

Local rights bodies and the international community called for calm as the opposition yesterday vowed to "remove Wade who is squatting" in the presidential palace in downtown Dakar.

Police arrested Alioune Tine, a senior member of Senegal's June 23 Movement (M23) opposition movement and dozens of others, activists said, in the wake of riots in which a policeman was killed.

Amath Dansoko, another M23 leader, called for Tine's "immediate" liberation, while singer Youssou Ndour, whose presidential candidacy was rejected, said he was manhandled by police while making his way to a police station to offer support for the arrested opposition leader.

Seven presidential candidates meanwhile filed challenges to Wade's bid, their lawyer said.

Violence erupted late Friday after the west African nation's Constitutional Council gave Wade, 85, the green light to run in February 26 polls, infuriating opponents who accuse him of fiddling with the constitution.

Riot police cordoned off streets around the presidency on yesterday after a night of what local newspapers dubbed "fire and blood" when a mass rally ignited with anger after the announcement.

The streets in flashpoint suburbs were littered with debris after rioters fought running battles with police, overturning and torching cars, setting alight tyres and shops along the city's main arteries.

Macky Sall, a former prime minister under Wade who is also running in the election, blamed the president for the violence.

"These deplorable events were a result of the fact that Abdoulaye Wade decided to confiscate the will of the Senegalese people through this electoral coup which is under way," Sall said.

"We are planning to meet to face this oppression through resistance and have called all Senegalese to stand ready to face it, and make every effort to ensure that Wade retracts his candidacy because there is no chance he will take part in the election."

Sall called for "everything at once: marches, sit-ins, resistance ... no violence."

A youth movement calling itself "Y'en a Marre" (We are fed up) announced in a statement it would organize demonstrations "to confront this abuse of authority until the law is restore and until the candidacy of Abdoulaye Wade is invalidated".

Wade accused the opposition of "temper trantrums", and Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom said in a statement that police were investigating the death of policeman Fode Ndiaye, who was "hit on the head by a brick" during the riots.

(Agencies)