Youssou N'dour, the Prince of Dakar, is a well-known figure in West Africa who gained international recognition in 1994 with the hit song Seven Seconds.

While he has sought to promote African unity and peace throughout his career, the Grammy-winning artist has now taken his mission a step further by announcing that he will run for president of Senegal in the election on 26 February.

The move comes amid growing discontent over the country's incumbent head of state, Abdoulaye Wade, who announced recently that he would seek a third term in office despite a two-term limit on the post in the country's constitution.

Opponents staged protests against the move in the normally peaceful capital of Dakar.

N'dour announced his candidacy following growing public discontent over the country's economic stagnation and growing fears of authoritarianism on the part of the 85-year-old president.

"For a very long time, many Senegalese of different backgrounds have called for my candidacy for the presidency next February," N'dour said.

"I've listened, I've heard and I am responding favourably to their request. I am a candidate. It's a supreme patriotic duty, the best I can give of myself. I am the alternative to the current leadership in place in the country."

His announcement has, however, received mixed responses, as the 52-year-old musician has never been to university, prompting critics to cast doubts over his ability to run the country.

N'dour defended his lack of political experience, saying: "I have studied at the school of the world. Travel teaches as much as books."

The Senegalese star is not the first to relinquish the concert stage for the political rostrum. The path has been illuminated by Ronald Regan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Václav Havel.