Senegal′s early election results signal a run-off vote | Africa | DW | 27.02.2012
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Africa

Senegal's early election results signal a run-off vote

According to local media and the African Union observers, Senegal’s president Abdoulaye Wade and his main rival Macky Sall could face off in a second-round vote.

A Senegalese electoral official empties a ballot box on a table for counting during presidential elections in the capital Dakar2012. Senegal's incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, who is seeking to extend his 12-year rule in the West African state despite complaints he is violating term limits, was heckled by scores of voters as he cast his ballot on Sunday. REUTERS/Joe Penney (SENEGAL - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Senegal's peaceful election surprised many observers

Local newspapers, television stations and websites were on Monday publishing unofficial results from Sunday's election in which 14 candidates were vying for the presidency.

A citizen election website, SUNU2012, using figures sent in by volunteers at individual polling stations, showed Wade leading and Sall second. However, no single candidate has more than 50 percent at this time.

Under Senegalese law, a candidate must win more than half of the votes in the first round to avoid a run-off in the West African country of 13 million people.

A man holds up his voting card during Senegal's presidential elections in the capital Dakar, February 26, 2012. Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade faces re-election on Sunday, having defied opposition efforts to block him from standing and warnings that his candidacy risked destabilising the usually tranquil West African state. REUTERS/Joe Penney (SENEGAL - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Voters could soon be headed for a second round poll

The election commission is expected to release official results on Tuesday.

Fifty-year-old, Macky Sall, who is running for the president for the first time, declared on Monday that a run-off was "inevitable."

Sall is a former protégée of President Wade. He has held several high level posts, including minister of energy and mines, minister of the interior and prime minister but fell out with Wade and resigned his posts in 2008.

At Sall's political headquarters in the capital Dakar, the mood was positive.

"The population has clearly shown that it doesn't want Wade to continue," Moubarack Lo, an economist and former advisor to the prime minister told DW.

"Because by sending him in the second round, I think it is a very big signal and it is very clear that a new change is in the making for Senegal," he said.

Caution from president's camp

But the 85-year-old incumbent Wade was hesitant to draw a conclusion at such an early stage.

"At the moment we are dealing with results that are spread out and isolated and that do not allow us to draw any conclusions," Wade's spokesperson, El Hadj Amadou Sall told the state-run news agency on Monday.

Wade has strong support in the rural areas where figures may be slower to come in.

A 32-year-old Senegalese man, who didn't wish to be named, told DW in Dakar that he was proud of Wade's achievement.

"For all that people say about him, Abdoulaye Wade for has done many things for us, we have a lot of new infrastructures," he said.

All for one

Many experts say that for Wade to remain in power, he would need to win in the first round when the opposition is split between 13 candidates. In a run-off, his chances of winning would be much slimmer because he would only have one opponent.

"Everything is at stake in the first round, he is playing his last card. If he goes to the second round, he has no chance," Dakar based sociologist Hadiya Tandian told AFP.

epa03111161 A photograph made available on 18 February 2012 showing Senegalese anti government demonstrators rioting in Dakar, Senegal 17 February 2012. Violence broke out during demonstrations against President Abdoulaye Wade's re-election bid. Protestors are demonstrating against a ruling by the country's top judges allowing President Abdoulaye Wade to seek a third term in office. Presidential elections are scheduled for 26 February 2012. EPA/STR +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Pre-election violence had threatened Senegal's democratic image

Another presidential candidate, Moustapha Niasse, said it was important now for the opposition parties to rally behind a single presidential aspirant.

"Whatever the personality of the candidate who will face (Wade) in the second round...in any case, stopping Wade is an imperative, it is a necessity, it is a must," Niasse said on RFI, France's international radio.

The 85-year-old president's bid to run for a third term, despite a two-term limit, ignited violent protests in a country previously considered as one of the oldest and most robust democracies on the continent.

Wade's refusal to step aside has been widely criticised, with the United States calling it "regrettable" and France saying it was time for Senegal's younger generation to take power.

Still, Sunday's election was largely peaceful according to international monitors.

Author: Chrispin Mwakideu / AFP, Reuters, AP (with additional reporting from Amanda Fortier, DW correspondent in Dakar)
Editor: Kate Hairsine / rm

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