Monday, February 27, 2012

Senegal Opposition Faces Post-Election Challenges

February 27, 2012

Senegal Opposition Faces Post-Election Challenges, Says Analyst

Peter Clottey

A poll worker helps a voter cast his ballot for president at a polling station in the Cambarene neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

The head of Premum Africa, a Senegalese think tank, said opposition presidential candidates have a complicated task to form an alliance in their efforts to defeat President Abdoulaye Wade following Sunday’s first round election.

Provisional results so far released by the Independent Electoral Commission show none of the candidates garnered the required votes to win the first round.

Abdou Lo, who doubles as a political analyst, said the opposition parties have to overcome significant challenges in their bid to form an alliance in the next round of the presidential vote.

“Of course, President Wade is trying to declare himself winner of the first round. But, it is going to be complex with all the observers, as well as the international community, being in this country,” said Lo. “The conviction of all objective observers is that we are going to have a second round and that it’s going to be Abdoulaye Wade against Macky Sall.”

Wade told a news conference Monday that he is leading in the vote count. He said the results show him winning about 32 percent of the vote. He said the second-place candidate, whom he did not identify, has about 25 percent.

Both local and international poll observers praised the peaceful conduct of Sunday’s election, despite minor delays.

“It will be complicated, for some of the opposition candidates because they know that, if Macky Sall wins, he is going to be there for probably 14 years,” said Lo. “If it is Abdoulaye Wade who wins for the second round, they would have the probability to go in a competition in two or maximum four years. There is some kind of dilemma here for them. If they vote for Macky Sall instead of Wade, most of them will end their political career.”

The opposition candidates said they will not support Wade if he fails to win the first round. The parties and civil society groups that formed the M23 have said the presidential candidates should form an alliance to defeat Wade.

But, Lo cautioned that the opposition candidates will have a challenging task to overcome in the anticipated alliance negotiations.

“They will not align behind Macky Sall without any condition even though they are all in the opposition. Some of them want a short-term mandate, while Macky Sall wants a seven-year mandate, which is very long for the rest of the candidates,” said Lo. “They will try to negotiate to try to bring down the mandate from seven to five years and to try to put some [current] ministers who [embezzled] funds in prison.”

Lo said it will be difficult for some of the opposition presidential candidates to convince Sall to accept their proposal.

“Macky Sall doesn’t have a choice. He needs the other opposition leaders to back him if he wants to defeat Wade.”

The incumbent leader was challenged by 13 other candidates, including Idrissa Seck and Sall, both of whom served as prime minister under Wade.

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