Bassirou Diomaye Faye is leading the presidential race

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Opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye has been declared the favorite to win the presidential election in Senegal, after several others have agreed.

Millions took part in a peaceful vote on Sunday, following three years of unrest and protests against the incumbent opposition. Macky Sall.

Voters had a choice of 17 candidates.

However, the ruling party’s candidate, Amadou Ba, rejected reports of defeat and said he hoped to contest a second vote to decide the winner.

Mr Faye, 44, the head of Ousmane Sonko’s Pastef party, was jailed just days before the vote. Mr Sonko was disqualified from the competition due to defamation.

The first results announced on national television showed that Mr Faye had won the majority of the vote, prompting widespread celebrations in the city of Dakar.

Fans lit fireworks, waved Senegalese flags and blew vuvuzelas.

The results also led to five challengers declaring Faye the winner. Anta Babacar Ngom, the sole female advocate, wished Mr Faye well in her speech.

It is unclear how many of the 15,633 polling stations have been counted so far. Final results are expected on Tuesday.

Mr Sonko supported Mr Faye, a co-founder of the defunct Pastef party, who was also arrested about a year ago on charges including defamation and contempt of court.

An amnesty law passed this month allowed them to be released days before the vote.

They campaigned together under the banner “Diomaye and Sonko”. Some political leaders and critics have supported Faye’s decision.

“People are choosing between continuing and breaking out,” Faye said after the vote, urging the contestants to accept the winner.

Get ready to run

Mr. Sall, who was in office, did not vote for the first time in Senegal’s history. His ruling coalition elected Mr. Ba, 62, who was prime minister.

Mr Ba’s campaign said “considering what has emerged from our panel of experts, we are confident that, at the very least, we will go to the finals”.

About 7.3 million people registered to vote in a country of about 18 million people.

The election was due to take place last month but Sall called it off, sparking deadly protests.

More on the Senegalese elections:

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