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28 Mar, 2024 14:56

Senegal opposition leader wins presidential election

The ruling party’s candidate has conceded defeat, joining several other contenders in congratulating Bassirou Diomaye Faye
Senegal opposition leader wins presidential election

Senegal’s opposition leader, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, has been elected president in the West African nation’s delayed elections which were held last Sunday, according to preliminary results announced on Wednesday.

The 44 year-old, who had been released from jail less than two weeks before the ballot, obtained 54.28% of all votes cast, the court of appeals in the capital, Dakar, declared at a news conference.

The ruling coalition’s candidate, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, got over 35% of the vote, it added.

Ba conceded defeat to Faye on Monday, having declined to do so earlier and claiming that a run-off election would be required to determine the winner.

“In view of the trends in the results of the presidential election and while awaiting the official proclamation, I congratulate President Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye for his victory in the first round,” Ba wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The opposition leader’s campaign director, Moustapha Guirassy, told local media on Sunday that Faye had received phone calls from 13 of 18 opponents congratulating him on his win when early indications showed him leading. Outgoing Senegalese President Macky Sall has also congratulated Faye on his electoral victory.

More than seven million people were registered to vote in the former French colony, which has a population of around 18 million, with the turnout reaching 61.30%, according to officials.

The elections, which had been planned for February, were held after months of tension and deadly protests in the African nation, sparked by several court cases against another popular opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko. An earlier decision that would have delayed the voting until December was deemed unconstitutional by Senegal’s top electoral court, which ordered the government to set a date before Sall’s tenure ends on April 2.

Sonko, who was barred from running due to a previous conviction, chose Faye to run instead. Faye and Sonko, co-founders of the now-defunct Patriots for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity Party (PASTEF), campaigned under the banner “Diomaye is Sonko” after being granted political amnesty just in time for the balloting.

The president-elect, whose official confirmation is expected on Friday, has pledged to fight corruption and reform the economy during his tenure.