President Abdoulaye Wade has been resoundingly beaten by his former protege Macky Sall in Sunday’s peaceful presidential run-off. Now Senegalese are looking to see what 50-year-old Sall has to offer.
Cheers and jubilations resounded through towns and cities across Senegal, after state television confirmed that incumbent president Wade had called Macky Sall to congratulate him on his election victory.
Though official results are not expected until later, it was plain that Sall would be the next Senegalese president after results showed him leading Wade in most polling stations.
Wade was even beaten by Sall in his home turf, signaling the voters' rejection of the 85-year-old president. In the first round of voting on February 26, President Wade had to be whisked away by his bodyguards after being booed by an angry crowd as he cast his vote at a local polling station.
A new era
After 12 years in power, President Wade's decision to concede defeat, along with his promise to peacefully hand over power, has surprised many. Prior to the run-off election, Senegal's capital Dakar had witnessed daily clashes between security officials and demonstrators. They were protesting Wade's bid for a third presidential term, even though the country's constitution only allowed two terms.
Incoming president Macky Sall has hinted that he intends to give the West African country "new vitality" by slashing government spending. Sall had criticized Wade for wasteful expenditures.
"The policies of the (current) president are based on squandering public funds to construct a statue that cost tens of millions of francs and to maintain excessive government ministries," he said.
After his victory became obvious, Sall said his win was a win for the entire country.
The opposition leader's resounding victory can be attributed to three main factors. Most Senegalese were fed up with Abdoulaye Wade and his government. To make matters worse, many believed Wade was simply grooming his unpopular son, Karim, to succeed him. In addition, Sall had the unified support of the 12 opposition candidates who had lost in the first round of the presidential election. Their backing meant Wade didn't stand a chance.
Protegee who stood his ground
Sall, a trained engineer, originally belonged to Wade's camp, becoming a minister in his government in 2001. In 2004, Sall was appointed prime minister and eventually he was voted to the position of president of the National Assembly.
Sall then fell out with his former mentor after he summoned the president's son to a parliamentary hearing on an overblown budget for an Islamic world conference. The president's inner circle objected to Sall's actions, later dismissing him as the head of the National Assembly.
Sall subsequently founded his own party, Alliance for the Republic (APR).
Mamadou Badji, a political representative from Sall's coalition, said the results showed that Senegal had finally come to its senses.
"One can simply say that the power of truth has triumphed over the power of money," he said.
Author: Dirke Köpp / cm
Editor: Greg Wiser