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25 Mar, 2024 09:08

Opposition set to take power in African state after violent clashes

Rivals have conceded defeat in Senegal’s election, congratulating previously imprisoned Bassirou Diomaye Faye on his ‘victory’
Opposition set to take power in African state after violent clashes

Senegalese opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye is being hailed as the winner in the West African nation’s presidential elections, with early results from Sunday’s vote putting him ahead of other contenders, including the ruling party’s candidate.

Faye has received phone calls from 13 of his 18 competitors congratulating him on his victory, local media reported on Monday, citing the Patriots for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity Party (PASTEF) leader’s campaign director, Moustapha Guirassy.

While the official results are not expected until later this week, Faye’s supporters reportedly began celebrating on the streets in the capital, Dakar, late on Sunday after early indications showed him winning a majority of votes.

However, his main rival, former prime minister Amadou Ba of the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition, has denied defeat, claiming in a statement cited by Reuters that a run-off election would be required to determine the winner.

More than 7 million people were registered to vote in over 15,000 polling stations across the former French colony, which has a population of approximately 18 million. According to Senegalese broadcaster RTS, the turnout was around 71%.

The elections were supposed to take place last month, but outgoing President Macky Sall postponed the poll, sparking deadly clashes in the African nation. Earlier plans to postpone voting until December were deemed unconstitutional by the country’s top election court, which ordered the government to hold them before Sall’s tenure expired on April 2.

Sall did not run in the election, making it the first time in Senegal’s history that an incumbent was not on the ballot. He said the decision to delay the vote was necessary to resolve a dispute between the judiciary and lawmakers over the exclusion of key opposition figures from the final electoral list. PASTEF’s previous leader, Ousmane Sonko, who had been in jail, was among the candidates disqualified over his alleged criminal record.

Faye, a co-founder of the PASTEF coalition, was also imprisoned nearly a year ago on charges of defamation and contempt of court. Earlier this month, President Sall signed an amnesty law that let Sonko and Faye out of prison just days before the elections, with both campaigning under the banner “Diomaye is Sonko.”