Presidential election in Senegal | The anti-system candidate declared close to victory, the power camp contests

(Dakar) Anti-system opponent Bassirou Diomaye Faye appears to be getting closer on Monday in Senegal to a victory in the presidential election which would amount to a political earthquake, but the power camp has assured that there will be a second round.



Uncertainty persists over the outcome of an election which was to decide between continuity and a perhaps radical change after three years of agitation and political crisis.

Official results are not expected to be known until later this week. An absolute majority of votes cast is required to win in the first round. Failing that, the first two compete in a second round, the date of which has not been set.

At least seven of the 17 candidates congratulated Mr. Faye given the counting trend. Anta Babacar Ngom, the only candidate, spoke on X of “undeniable victory”. “If trends are confirmed, candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye will have received an enthusiastic plebiscite from the Senegalese people,” added Thierno Alassane Sall.

The results published office by office in the media and on social networks give a clear advantage to the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye ahead of the one in power, Amadou Ba, very far ahead of the others.

PHOTO JOHN WESSELS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It’s already time for celebration in the streets of Dakar for supporters of candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

Hundreds of Mr. Faye’s supporters sang and danced to the sound of drums at his campaign headquarters in Dakar. Processions of young people on motorbikes traveled through the streets of the capital, horns blaring, chanting “to the presidential Palace”. The atmosphere was more somber among Mr. Ba’s supporters at his headquarters.

But the campaign management of government candidate Amadou Ba assured that these demonstrations of joy were premature. After counting in a third of the offices and according to her experts, “we are certain to be, in the worst case, in a second round,” she said. She accused Mr Faye’s camp of attempted “manipulation”.

“A shift in Senegal into the populist adventure is not inevitable,” she said.

A victory for Mr. Faye, 44 years old since Monday, “candidate for system change” and “left-wing pan-Africanism”, and close to opponent Ousmane Sonko, could herald a real systemic challenge.

PHOTO MOSA’AB ELSHAMY, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The election was followed closely, Senegal being considered one of the most stable countries in a West Africa shaken by putsches.

His program insists on the reestablishment of national “sovereignty”, which he believes has been sold off abroad. He promised to fight corruption and better distribute wealth. He also promised to renegotiate mining, gas and oil contracts concluded with foreign companies.

Senegal could start producing gas and oil in 2024.

He embodies “the choice for the break,” Mr. Faye said of himself while voting alongside his two wives in his village of Ndiaganiao (west).

Diaraaf Gaye, a 26-year-old trader, “voted Diomaye without thinking”. “It is time for the country to start on a new basis with young people” in power, he said.

Mr. Ba, 62, would extend the action of the outgoing Macky Sall, of whom he was Prime Minister just a few weeks ago and who appointed him to succeed him.

PHOTO LUC GNAGO, REUTERS

Amadou Ba

Voters queued in dozens or hundreds during the day in front of different offices, without any exact assessment of participation (which was 66% in 2019) being provided. No notable incidents were reported and several voters expressed their satisfaction at voting, after the unrest caused by the postponement of the election.

“We finally got there. Alhamdoulila (Praise be to God). Recent times have not been easy for Senegal,” said Mita Diop. “But all that is behind us,” rejoiced this 51-year-old trader, in front of a polling station in Dakar.

Some 7.3 million voters were called to vote.

The election is being followed closely, with Senegal considered one of the most stable countries in West Africa shaken by putsch. Dakar maintains strong relations with the West, while Russia strengthens its surrounding positions.

The Senegalese were initially scheduled to vote on February 25.

The postponement of the vote sparked violence which left four people dead. Several weeks of confusion tested Senegal’s democratic practice, until the date of March 24 was decided. The campaign was reduced to two weeks, falling in the middle of the Muslim fasting month.

This is the first time that an outgoing president has not run for re-election.

“New bases”

Mr. Ba had to deal with President Sall’s legacy of persistent poverty, high unemployment, and hundreds of arrests in recent times.

Since 2021, the country has experienced episodes of unrest caused by the standoff between Ousmane Sonko and those in power, combined with social tensions and the vagueness long maintained by President Sall over his candidacy for a third term. The crisis continued with the postponement of the presidential election.

Dozens of people were killed and hundreds arrested, damaging the country’s image, unfairly according to the government.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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