Senegal anti-establishment candidate leads in presidential poll

Senegal’s anti-establishment candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye appeared late Sunday to be closing in on a first-round victory in a presidential poll.

Opposition figure Faye, 43, had promised voters profound change and a presidential programme of left-wing pan-Africanism.

Faye appeared clearly ahead of the governing coalition’s former prime minister, Amadou Ba, according to provisional results from individual polling stations published by local media and on social networks.

Five other contenders congratulated the opposition candidate on a first-round win, in light of initial indications from the ongoing vote count.

“Congratulations to Bassirou Diomaye Faye on his unquestionable victory,” the only woman candidate, Anta Babacar Ngom, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Dethie Fall congratulated Faye “on his fine victory, clearly achieved in view of the very strong trends that are emerging”.

Papa Djibril Fall, Mamadou Lamine Diallo and El Hadji Mamadou Diao made similar declarations.

Faye and Ba had emerged as the favourites to win in a crowded pack of 17 candidates.

Hundreds gathered at Faye’s campaign headquarters in the capital Dakar late Sunday, singing and dancing to the sound of klaxons and drums.

Young people on motorbikes paraded the streets chanting “to the (presidential) palace”.

The atmosphere was more sombre among the few dozen supporters at Ba’s headquarters.

Radio and television stations read out the results from each of the 16,000 polling stations in Senegal and abroad without aggregating them.

Official results are not expected before the end of the week.

Faye has pledged to restore national “sovereignty,” fight corruption and distribute wealth more equitably.

He has also promised to renegotiate mining, gas and oil contracts signed with foreign companies.

Both contenders had also pitched themselves as the best candidate for young people in a county where half the population is under 20.

“I voted for Diomaye without thinking,” said Diaraaf Gaye, a 26-year-o ld shopkeeper, earlier in the day.

“It’s time for the country to start on a new footing with young people” in power.

‘Finally got there’

On Sunday, voters queued calmly outside polling stations, many having woken up early to pray before daybreak before heading straight to polling stations.

Voting materials including ballot boxes were still labelled with the original February pol l date.

“We finally got there. May God be praised,” said Mita Diop, a 51-year-old trader. “Recent times haven’t been easy for Senegal which has experienced several upheavals.”

Opposition figurehead Ousmane Sonko — who was barred from standing due to a defamation conviction — said young people had “massively” turned out to vote.

“We are convinced that at the end of this day the victory will be dazzling,” Sonko said, referring to his deputy and endorsed candidate, Faye, as he voted in his southern stronghold of Ziguinchor.

Both Faye and Ba said they were “confident” of a first-round victory after casting their votes earlier Sunday.

An absolute majority is required for a candidate to win in the first round.



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