Govt admits setbacks in Senegal elections

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

It confirmed it would represent the first defeat of ruling party in its nine years in power.

The government conceded it had lost “several big cities” including the capital Dakar, but said it had held on to “most local authorities”.

The vote was the last electoral test before presidential elections in 2012 and could hasten a shift in the political landscape.

It could be the opportunity for the president’s son and influential adviser Karim Wade to enter the stage as a possible candidate to succeed his 82-year-old father.

The opposition coalition Benno Siggil Senegaal—Wolof for “United to boost Senegal”—said they had won in several big cities including 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.

“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 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.

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


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