Putting his lucrative recording and touring career on hold in response to what he called a “supreme patriotic duty,” the Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour announced late Monday that he was running for president of his country. “For a long time, men and women have demonstrated their optimism, dreaming of a new Senegal,” Mr. N’Dour, 52, said in a statement broadcast on the television and radio network he owns. “They have in various ways called for my candidacy in the February presidential race. I listened. I heard."
But Mr. N’Dour, who lives in Dakar, is the only candidate who is also a pop star with an international following. He is also an entrepreneur who has taken money earned from the more than 30 albums he has made in a solo career that spans 25 years and invested heavily in his homeland, where income per capita is barely $1,000 a year.
Mr. N’Dour’s main challenge, political analysts said, is to translate his international popularity into votes. That is likely to prove a challenge, they suggested, even with the almost universal name recognition he enjoys in Senegal.