Senegal results show large win for opponent Faye in presidential pollWed, 27 Mar 2024 23:54:19 GMT

Anti-establishment figure Bassirou Diomaye Faye has comfortably won the Senegalese presidential election with 54.28 percent of votes in the first round, official provisional results showed Wednesday.He placed well ahead of the governing coalition’s candidate, former prime minister Amadou Ba, who garnered 35.79 percent. The victory for Faye, who was only freed from prison 10 days before the election, still has to be validated by Senegal’s top constitutional body, which could happen in a few days.Faye, 44, who has said he wants a “break” with the current political system, is set to become the youngest president in Senegal’s history.It would be the first time since independence from France in 1960 that an opponent has won in the first round.Aliou Mamadou Dia, who came third out of 19 candidates officially on the list, won just 2.8 percent of the vote, according to figures read out at the Dakar court by the president of the national vote counting commission, Amady Diouf.While his victory in Sunday’s vote was already clear after the publication of unofficial partial results, the margin of Faye’s win was confirmed by the vote counting commission, which falls under the judiciary.The turnout of 61.3 percent was less than in 2019 when outgoing President Macky Sall won a second term in the first-round, but more than in 2012.The announcement of the official provisional results seems to clear the way for a handover of power between Sall and his successor.The political crisis triggered by Sall’s last-minute postponement of the vote, and the subsequently rushed electoral timetable, cast doubt on whether the handover could take place before the incumbent’s term officially ends on April 2.But a swift handover now seems feasible in the West African nation, which prides itself on its stability and democratic principles in a coup-hit region, provided no appeals are made.Presidential candidates have 72 hours after the results are announced by the commission to lodge an appeal with the Constitutional Council.The Constitution states that if no appeals are made in this period, “the Council shall immediately proclaim the final results of the ballot”.But if an objection is made, the Council has five days to rule and could, in theory, annul the election.- ‘Humility, transparency’ -Faye, who has never held elected office, is set to become the fifth president of the West African country of around 18 million people.His fellow presidential candidates, and Sall, have recognised his victory.Sunday’s election was preceded by three years of tension and deadly unrest, with Senegal plunged into a fresh political crisis in February when Sall decided to delay the presidential poll.Dozens have been killed and hundreds arrested since 2021, with the country’s democratic credentials coming under scrutiny.Faye himself was detained for months before his release in the middle of the election campaign.International observers hailed the smooth running of Sunday’s vote.The African Union’s observation mission commended the “political and democratic maturity of the Senegalese people (and) the generally peaceful political atmosphere of the presidential election”. US President Joe Biden on Wednesday congratulated Faye and “the Senegalese people, who have demonstrated that the right to vote — and have that vote counted — remains democracy’s threshold liberty”.Faye has promised to restore national “sovereignty” and implement a programme of “left-wing pan-Africanism”.His election could herald a profound overhaul of Senegal’s institutions.On Monday, he pledged “to govern with humility, with transparency, and to fight corruption at all levels”.He said he would prioritise “national reconciliation”, “rebuilding institutions” and “significantly reducing the cost of living”.But he also sought to reassure foreign partners.Senegal “will remain a friendly country and a sure and reliable ally for any partner that engages with us in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive cooperation,” he pledged.