... election features 19 candidates, including one woman
World News

Senegalese file out on Sunday to elect new president

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Senegal’s 7.4 million registered voters came out in large numbers on Sunday to choose a new leader to replace outgoing President Macky Sall, whose attempt for tenure elongation after 12 years in office almost threw the country into a political crisis.

According to various reports from across the country’s major cities, such as Dakar, Thies, Diourbel, and Saint Louis, the process took off relatively smoothly, with many voters in orderly queues as early as 5 a.m. under the watch of security agents within the perimeters of the polling centres.

In the eastern region of Ziguinchor, some youths were reported to have staged a protest on the eve of the voting day against the alleged busing of voters from neighbouring Guinea-Bissau into the region by agents of one of the candidates.

But balloting took place in the region, and authorities said they were investigating the allegation.

The official voting time is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but some voters, including women and youths, were already waiting for the arrival of electoral officials and materials at some polling stations hours before the opening, especially in Diourbel, the nation’s second-largest city after the capital, Dakar.


At the Ecole Mane Diarra polling station in Diourbel, a young female voter assisted Gallo Sow, a 68-year-old visually challenged man, in casting his ballot. Mr. Georges Mpany, 76, was the first to do so by 8.05 a.m..

Between 200 and 600 people have registered to vote at most polling stations, and polling officials were optimistic that everyone in line by 6 p.m. would be able to cast a ballot.

After political tensions and uncertainty over the rescheduling of the presidential vote and the Constitutional Council’s intervention, the election was moved from February 25 to March 24, featuring 19 candidates, including one woman.

Some of the voting materials, including ballot papers, markings on the ballot boxes, and accreditation badges, still bore February 25 as the election date since there was not enough time to effect the date change.

On Friday, Karim Wade, the candidate of the former ruling party PDS, declared his support for the opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, in what political observers consider a potential game changer, capable of swinging victory in the first round in favour of Faye, the anointed candidate of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko.

If none of the 19 candidates gets the constitutionally required 50% + 1 vote in the first round of balloting, the two frontrunners will square up in the run-off vote.

 

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