Monday, June 30, 2014

Senegal votes in local elections seen as presidential test

Senegal voted in municipal and provincial elections on Sunday, seen as a key test for President Macky Sall whose party is riven by divisions two years after winning a bitterly fought election.
Sall's Alliance for the Republic (APR) struggled to agree on candidates heading into the election and in some cases could not come up with a common candidate.

But the party which won a crushing victory in 2012 — turning out of office President Abdoulaye Wade whose efforts to seek a third term sparked violence in the country — is hoping to shore up support. The local elections are a key test for Sall and his party which control only a few local towns.
Voting was delayed in some areas due to election officials and equipment not arriving in time, according to an AFP journalist on the ground. More than 5.3 million people are eligible to vote for more than 2,700 councillors across the country, a record number of candidates, up from 1,600 in 2009.

Those councillors from 602 districts will in turn elect mayors and heads of provinces. After casting his vote, Sall complained that the high number of candidates hindered the voting process. Sall called for "a quiet vote" after a campaign marred by incidents of violence.

No major incidents had been reported by midday, but several local officials said participation was still low across the country. Voting is due to end at 18:00 GMT. The March 2012 presidential election was marred by deadly riots sparked by Wade's efforts to stay in office after 12 years in power. At least 15 people were killed and 150 injured.

However Sall won with 65 per cent and Wade's acceptance of his defeat and the peaceful handover of power was hailed by the international community. Senegal has typically been hailed as one of the region's success stories, being alone among its mainland neighbours never to have undergone a military coup. The APR hopes the elections will allow it to strengthen its base despite poor economic results and frustrations amongst the Senegalese that election promises have yet to be fulfilled.

Source: AFP

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