April 24, 2024

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Senegal elections: oppositionist Basserou Diomaye Fay leads the race for the presidency

Senegal elections: oppositionist Basserou Diomaye Fay leads the race for the presidency

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Passero Diomai Fay supporters celebrate in Dakar

Opposition leader Basserou Diomaye Faye has emerged as the favorite to win Senegal's presidential elections, after several rivals made concessions.

Millions took part in a peaceful vote on Sunday, after three years of unrest and opposition protests against current President Macky Sall.

Voters had a choice among 17 candidates.

However, Amadou Ba, chosen by the ruling coalition, rejected reports of defeat and said he expected to go through a run-off to determine the winner.

Faye, 44, a member of Ousmane Sonko's Pastif party, was in prison just days before the vote. Mr Sonko was disqualified from the race due to his defamation conviction.

The first set of counts announced on television showed that Faye had won a majority of votes, leading to widespread celebrations in the streets of the capital, Dakar.

Fans set off fireworks, waved Senegalese flags and blew vuvuzela horns.

The results also led to five opposition candidates declaring Mr Fay the winner. Anta Babakar Nujoom, one of the early candidates, wished Mr Faye success in a statement.

He supported Sonko Faye, co-founder of the now-defunct Pastev party, who was also arrested nearly a year ago on charges including defamation and contempt of court.

An amnesty law passed this month allowed them to be released days before the vote.

They campaigned together under the slogan “Diomaye is Sonko”. Some prominent politicians and opposition candidates have supported Fay's candidacy.

“Residents are choosing between continuity and disruption,” Fay said after casting his vote, urging the contenders to accept the winner.

Prepare for the runoff

Mr Sall, the incumbent, was not on the ballot for the first time in Senegal's history. His ruling coalition chose Ba, 62, a former prime minister.

“Given our panel of experts’ comments on the results, we are confident that, in a worst-case scenario, we will go to a runoff,” Ba’s campaign said.

About 7.3 million people have registered to vote in the country, which has a population of about 18 million.

It is not clear how many polling stations have been counted so far out of 15,633 polling stations. Final interim results are expected by Tuesday.

The elections were scheduled to be held last month but were postponed, sparking bloody protests from the opposition.

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