Senegal goes to the polls for the legislative elections in test for the presidential election

Senegalese voters go to the polls on Sunday for the legislative elections. The opposition hopes to force a coalition with President Macky Sall and curb any ambitions he may have for a third term.

Sall, 60, elected in 2012 for seven years and then re-elected in 2019 for five more, has been accused of wanting to break the two-term limit and run for re-election in 2024.

He has been vague on the matter, but any defeat by his supporters in Sunday’s vote could upend such plans.

Polling stations are due to open at 08:00 GMT and close at 18:00 GMT.

The single-round ballot will determine the 165 seats in the single-chamber parliament – currently controlled by the president’s supporters – for the next five years.

Legislators are elected under a system that combines proportional representation with national lists for 53 legislators, and majority voting in the country’s departments for 97 others.

The diaspora elects the remaining 15 deputies.

This year, eight coalitions are in the running, including Yewwi Askan Wi (which means “liberate the people” in Wolof), the main opposition coalition.

Its most prominent member, Ousmane Sonko, came third in the 2019 presidential election.

But he and other coalition members were barred from standing in Sunday’s election for technical reasons.

Ahead of the election, Yewwi Askan Wi allied himself with Wallu Senegal (which means “Save Senegal” in Wolof), led by former President Abdoulaye Wade.

The two groups agreed to work together to obtain a parliamentary majority and “force government cohabitation”.

They also want to force Sall to give up all hope of running in 2024.

In local elections in March, the opposition won in major cities, including the capital Dakar, Ziguinchor in the south and Thiès in the west.

Sonko and other members of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition were barred from contesting Sunday’s elections after authorities rejected the national list of candidates in early June on technical grounds.

One of the names had accidentally been listed as both a first-choice candidate and an alternate candidate, invalidating the entire list.

This sparked violent protests that left at least three people dead.

On June 29, the opposition finally agreed to participate in the elections, easing tensions.

(AFP)

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