Senegal's opposition claims election victory

Senegal’s main opposition coalition claimed victory on Monday in local elections seen as a test for the leadership of veteran President Abdoulaye Wade.

Opposition coalition Benno Siggil Senegaal—Wolof for “United to boost Senegal”—said they had won in several big cities including the capital Dakar, based on its own party tallies.

“We are claiming a large victory. This is a rejection of Wade, of his system and of his plans for the Senegalese people,” Benno Siggil Senegaal spokesperson Serigne Mbaye Thiam said.

Wade’s Sopi 2009 ruling coalition admitted that the opposition appeared to be headed for victory in Sunday’s elections, the first contested by the opposition since boycotting parliamentary elections in 2007.

“Up till now the trends we are seeing from the result in polling stations are sufficiently favourable for the Benno Siggil Senegaal coalition,” Makhar Gueye of Sopi said on Monday.

“If it is confirmed the opposition is very favourably positioned,” he added.

The opposition said before the elections the polls were effectively a referendum on Wade’s rule ahead of the 2012 presidential elections.

The elections, held against a backdrop of mounting social tensions, marked the official entry into politics of Karim Wade, the son of the 82-year-old president who has been tipped as a candidate to succeed his father after his term ends in 2012.

Provisional results are expected to be released in the next few days.—AFP

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