President’s party claims Senegal election victory as opposition contests early results

Senegalese President Macky Sall’s ruling coalition said on Monday it had won 30 of the country’s 46 administrative departments, giving it a slim parliamentary majority after Sunday’s legislative elections.

Former Prime Minister Aminata Toure, who led the ruling coalition slate in the legislative elections, announced the partial results on national television from party headquarters early Monday after Sunday’s vote.

“This gives us an indisputable majority,” Toure said to cheers from the fans. She did not say how many of the 165 parliamentary seats the party won.

Under Senegal’s hybrid electoral system, 97 candidates who obtain the majority of votes in the administrative departments are elected, while 53 from the national lists are elected by proportional representation and 15 are elected by Senegalese residing outside the country. country.

Barthelemy Dias, mayor of the capital Dakar, and leader of the main opposition coalition which has been energized by economic hardship and fears of Sall’s ambition for a third term, immediately challenged the results announced by Touré, warning that it was not up to her to announce the results of the election.

“People will respond, and people will come out into the streets tomorrow, and you tell us where you got your majority,” Dias said.

The political backdrop in the country of 17.5 million people, considered one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, has grown increasingly acrimonious, fueled in part by Sall’s refusal to rule out violation of term limits.

Violent protests erupted last year after Sall’s main opponent, Ousmane Sonko, was arrested on charges of rape. Sonko, who came third in the last presidential election in 2019, denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

Violent protests erupted again last month after the main list of parliamentary candidates from the main opposition coalition, which included Sonko, was disqualified on technical grounds. As a result, the coalition reserve list – made up mostly of relative unknowns – will be on the ballot.

The coalition, which has formed an alliance with one led by 96-year-old former President Abdoulaye Wade, hopes to build on the opposition’s gains in January’s municipal elections when they took control of the main cities of Senegal.

The ambition of a third term?Sall’s ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition is trying to retain its majority of more than three-quarters of parliament’s 165 seats.

“I am confident that, as in the past, voters will decide in full transparency,” Sall said after the vote.

Sall, 60, took power in 2012, removing Wade, and won re-election in 2019. He campaigned on expensive construction projects such as a high-speed train line and a conference center, as well as on oil and gas production. .

His opponents seized on growing frustrations over economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic and rising fuel and food prices.

Sall’s refusal to publicly rule out a candidacy in 2024 has fueled fears he is following in the footsteps of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and former Guinean President Alpha Condé. Both men ran – and won – a third term in 2020 arguing that the new constitutions had reset their two-term limits.

Senegal passed constitutional revisions, which among other things reduced presidential terms from seven to five years, in 2016. Sall declined to comment on his intentions for 2024.

(Reuters)

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