Senegal’s Sunday Presidential Race Narrows Down

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…By Paul Ejime 

With less than 24 hours to Senegal’s March 24 Presidential election, the race has become more interesting with former President Abdoulaye Wade’s Senegalese Democratic Party, PDS, joining the main opposition Coalition’s candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

The Constitutional Council had disqualified Karim Wade, the PDS’s flagbearer and the former President’s son, from the presidential race over his dual citizenship. The Supreme Court also rejected his bid to cancel or delay the presidential vote beyond March 24.

But the PDS in a surprise move on Friday declared its support for Faye, whom popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has chosen as his preferred presidential candidate following his disqualification after conviction for “misleading” Senegalese youths.

Both men are beneficiaries of a recent general amnesty announced by out-going President Macky Sall, whose ruling Alliance for the Republic, APR, is fielding former Prime Minister Amadou Ba in the presidential contest.

With new political alignments developing, Faye could clinch the presidency in the first round with the 50% + 1 vote required by the constitution. Otherwise, the two frontrunners will go into a run-off.

After months of political uncertainty and tensions following President Sall’s defeated tenure elongation plans and the rescheduling of the presidential vote from February 25 to March 24, Senegal’s estimated 7.4 million registered voters are eager to put the presidential election behind them.

Reports from across the country of an estimated 18 million population indicate that all is set for the crucial election which has attracted great international attention.

The contestations and street protests that killed at least 20 people, had threatened to dent Senegal’s record as a bastion of stability in the politically restive West African region,

There have been more than a dozen military coups and the toppling of elected governments by soldiers in four of the 15 ECOWAS member States from 2020 – Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The last three countries have served notice of their intention to quit ECOWAS altogether, hereby throwing into crisis the lofty regional integration goals set almost 50 years ago by the organization’s founding fathers.

 

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