/ 28 February 2007

Wade claims re-election in Senegal poll

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has secured re-election by winning more than half of votes cast in Sunday’s poll, government sources said on Tuesday, but the main opposition said it would contest the result.

Opponents had already accused Wade’s camp of jumping the gun in claiming a first-round victory.

The sources told Reuters that with 95% of votes counted, Wade had won 56,08% of valid votes.

”With this score, a first round win is secured,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be named.

Wade’s victory in 2000 enhanced Senegal’s reputation as a peaceful democracy and favourite of Western aid donors seeking to shore up stable nations in volatile West Africa.

Apart from a rumbling civil conflict in the southern Casamance province, political violence is rare, but tensions have spilled over into isolated clashes in recent weeks, and some fear more trouble over the results.

”We will not accept these results because we do not regard him as having been elected by the Senegalese people,” Aissata Tall Sall, spokewoman for Socialist Party candidate Ousmane Tanor Dieng, told a news conference.

Sall displayed voter cards bearing the same name, saying they showed some people had been able to vote more than once.

She said the party would challenge the result through the electoral authorities. She made no mention of street protests, although she said ”We will ask the Senegalese people to face up to its responsibilities”.


The Socialist Party, which Wade toppled from four decades in government seven years ago in one of Africa’s first transfers of power from one elected administration to another, had already said it had evidence of a plot to rig the vote.

Official results are due by midnight on Friday, and must then be confirmed by the Constitutional Council once any complaints of irregularities have been dealt with.

Sunday’s polling passed off without major incident and monitors from West African regional bloc Ecowas said it was generally free and fair. Partial results indicated a record turnout of 70% or more.

But rival candidates and the country’s main human rights organisation had criticised Wade’s campaign for declaring victory within hours of polls closing.

”Politicians should be banned from declaring themselves the victor to avoid manipulation or influencing the electorate,” the Dakar-based African human rights organisation RADDHO said.

Abdoulaye Bathily, one of Wade’s 14 challengers, denounced as ”unacceptable” results announced early on Monday by Wade’s campaign manager, Prime Minister Macky Sall, showing Wade heading for outright victory with more than 50% of the vote.

Bathily’s campaign said an audit of the electoral list had demonstrated it was possible to be registered more than once; that supposedly indelible ink used on people’s fingers to prevent multiple voting was in fact washable; and that candidates’ representatives at polling stations had been unable to check voters’ identities.

”These results do not reflect the spirit of the people, who in reality expressed a massive rejection of Abdoulaye Wade’s regime,” the Bathily campaign said in a statement.

Media watchdogs have accused state media of pro-Wade bias. – Reuters