Senegal votes in the delayed presidential election | Election News


Voting is taking place in Senegal late presidential election that many hope will bring change after a period of political turmoil that has sparked violent protests against the government and bolstered support for the opposition.

More than 7 million people in the country have registered to vote in the election, with around 16,440 polling stations opening on Sunday across the country and abroad.

Nineteen candidates are vying to replace President Macky Sall, to go down after a second term that was marred by riots over the impeachment of the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko It is a concern that Sall wants to extend his mandate beyond the limits of the Constitution.

The candidate is absent from the election for the first time in Senegal’s history. His ruling coalition has chosen former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, 62, as their candidate.

Sonko, Sall’s main rival, was unable to participate after being found guilty of defamation. Bassirou Diomaye Faye replaced Sonko as a member of the PASTEF party.

Apart from Ba and Faye, former Mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, former politician Idrissa Seck, former Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, close friend of President Sall Aly Ngouille Ndiaye and businessman and new politician Anta Babacar Ngom – the only woman among the candidates – and . it’s all part of the presidential race.

(Al Jazeera)

In order to avoid a runoff, one candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote. Although official results are expected next week, in previous elections representatives announced their predictions the same night as the vote.

Reporting from Dakar, Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque said it was a “strange” decision.

“There is as much hope as you can have in any election; there is fear and the unknown because this is the first election in the last 12 years where President Macky Sall is not in the running…

“This is an election like any other and it is very important especially for young people.”

‘Voting for change’

Queues formed outside polling stations around Dakar on Sunday. The streets were quiet as the country’s elite police were sent through the city in armored vehicles, checking voters’ cards.

“I am happy that I can exercise my right to vote as a Senegalese citizen,” voter Thiaba Camara Sy, of the organization Demain Senegal (Tomorrow Senegal), told Al Jazeera at a polling station in Dakar.

“This is what we have won because the risk was high that the elections will be delayed until who knows when, so I have been in line for two hours but I am happy.”

In the seaside neighborhood of Dakar’s Ngor, fisherman Alioune Samba, 66, said he was voting for the change everyone wanted.

“Food, water, school; Everything is expensive because of the little money we have in Senegal,” the father of three told Reuters.

People wait to cast their ballots outside the presidential elections, in Dakar, Senegal, Sunday, March 24.
People wait to cast their ballots outside a polling station during the presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal [Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP]

Khodia Ndiayes, a 52-year-old chef, told the Associated Press that she voted for Faye because she wanted Sonko to win.

He said: “I am proud to have voted.” “We need a new president because life is expensive, the economy is bad and we need good schools.”

Al Jazeera’s Haque said it appears that many people have turned out to vote.

“It is interesting who these people are: many young men and women, who are very important in this election because women are a large part of the electorate in Senegal,” he said.

Faye vs. Ba

Faye, who was approved by the popular Sonko to succeed him, was arrested about a year ago on charges that include contempt and contempt of court.

The amnesty order passed this month allowed it to release days before voting. He and his friend Diomaye campaigned together under the banner “Diomaye and Sonko”.

“People are choosing between continuity and implosion,” Faye said after the vote, urging the contestants to accept the result.

Meanwhile, Ba said he was “very confident” about his chances of winning.

In these elections, “two political camps stand on opposite sides of politics,” Mucahid Durmaz, a West African political analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told Al Jazeera.

He said that while the outgoing President Sall and the ruling coalition candidate Ba favor economic policies, the opposition Sonko and his candidate Faye are planning to introduce new funds and renegotiate contracts with the country’s oil and gas operators.

“The issue here is that although the country has been developing economically for many years under President Sall, it has not helped the social development of the youth,” said Durmaz.

Financial matters

Unemployment is another important issue in the election.

Frustration over the lack of job opportunities has fueled support for Sonko and his representative, Faye, especially among young people.

The share of young Senegalese who were not working, studying or studying stood at 35 percent in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic reopened the labor market.

In addition to unemployment, the rising cost of living caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the appreciation of the United States dollar have caused the Senegalese government to come to power.

The launch of oil and gas production later in 2024 has also raised questions about whether the natural resources will benefit more people and create jobs.

The opposition coalition backed by Sonko has promised to renegotiate energy deals to increase revenue, with Ba using the slogan “Shared Prosperity”.

The ‘dekha’ voting system

Although the election comes amid frustration over the economic crisis, according to election officials, voting has been peaceful.

Hundreds of election observers from political organizations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union were monitoring the fair elections.

“Since this morning, our viewers – and it is part of the picture – have seen that there are lines in front of the offices, which shows that people have gathered to exercise their right to vote and express their opinion on the future of Senegal,” Malin Bjork, from the EU’s election monitoring agency in Senegal, told Al Jazeera.

“Election offices are going well. It is calm; there is peace inside, from what we have seen,” he added.

“I think today is a very big day for us,” the group Aar Sunu Election (Protect Our Election), led by Dr Abdoulaye Bousso, told Al Jazeera in Dakar.

When Sall announced the cancellation of the election in February, there was an uproar from the government institutions in the country, including Bousso’s group.

“We fought for this election day and we are proud to see the great support of the Senegalese people.

“For us, it is a victory for Senegal’s democracy.”


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