Presidential election in Senegal | The two main candidates confident of a lightning victory

(Dakar) The two main presidential candidates in Senegal declared themselves confident of their victory in the first round on Sunday while their compatriots turned out in large numbers for a vote with a completely unpredictable outcome after three years of agitation and crisis policy.

“We finally got there. Alhamdoulila (Praise be to God). Recent times have not been easy for Senegal,” says Mita Diop, referring to the unrest caused a few weeks ago by the postponement of the election. “But all that is behind us,” rejoices this 51-year-old trader, in front of a polling station in Dakar.

She chose from the 19 available ballots (including those of two candidates who withdrew) and, after the voting booth, slipped her vote into the ballot box, then dipped a finger in red ink, a rule imposed to prevent that voters vote twice.


Offices are open until 6 p.m.

Voters lined up in dozens or hundreds in front of different offices, AFP journalists noted. But an exact assessment of participation (66% in 2019) was difficult.

The leader of the anti-system opposition Ousmane Sonko, who campaigned for his second Bassirou Diomaye Faye because he himself was disqualified, spoke of record mobilization, in particular of the young people on whom his camp bases its hopes, after having voted in his stronghold of Ziguinchor (south).


Ousmane Sonko

The two main competitors, Mr. Faye and Amadou Ba, declared themselves “confident” of a victory in the first round.

Offices are open until 6 p.m. (local). First unofficial provisional results could be published overnight. The date of a possible second round has not been set.

” caution ”


The election is being followed closely, with Senegal considered one of the most stable countries in West Africa shaken by putsch.

Outgoing President Macky Sall, who voted with his wife in Fatick (central-west), warned against premature claims of victory.

Some 7.3 million voters are asked to choose between 17 competitors, including one woman.

Amadou Ba, 62 years old, heir and prime minister until a few weeks ago of President Sall, and Bassirou Diomaye Faye, 43 years old, the “candidate for system change” and “left-wing pan-Africanism”, are given as favorites a competition which will decide between continuity and perhaps radical change.


Amadou Ba

The former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, 68, is cited as an outsider.

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.

Civil society, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union are deploying hundreds of observers.


Bassirou Diomaye Faye

The Senegalese were initially scheduled to vote on February 25. The ballot boxes and Sunday bulletins always bore this date.

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.

Despite these delays, EU observers noted that the operations took place “calmly, efficiently and (in a) very orderly manner,” said the head of the mission, Malin Björk.

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

“new bases”

Amadou Ba presents himself as heir to President Sall’s actions and as a bulwark against “adventurers” and “amateurs”. “We will consolidate, we will deepen, we will accelerate, we will improve and we will go faster,” he said while voting with his wife in Dakar.

Mr. Faye described himself as a “choice for the break” by voting alongside his two wives in his village of Ndiaganiao (west).

“Macky Sall has worked a lot and that’s why I’m going to vote for Amadou Ba, to continue the work,” said Ndeye Penda Faye, a 23-year-old cleaning woman in Dakar.

On the contrary, 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 must 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.


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