Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Senegal Prepares for Runoff Election

February 29, 2012

Senegal Prepares for Runoff Election

Nick Loomis | Dakar, Senegal

Election officials announced late Wednesday that Senegal's presidential election will go to a second round by March 25. President Abdoulaye Wade's opponent laid out his plan for a runoff earlier in the day.

Three days after the initial vote, and one day late, Senegal's National Census Commission announced the provisional results of Sunday's election. President Abdoulaye Wade faced 13 opponents and needed 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election -- something he did not achieve it.

Mr. Wade received 942,546 ballots or 34.82 percent of the votes cast.

Anticipating the result, his apparent opponent in a runoff, Macky Sall, held a press conference to thank the Senegalese people and announce his agenda for a second round of voting.

Sall said that from the first day of his term, he would take immediate steps to reduce the price of staple goods.

Many Senegalese complain that life has become too expensive under Abdoulaye Wade's 12 years in office. The political opposition says Mr. Wade squandered state funds on corrupt deals and vanity projects.

Macky Sall was the president's longest-serving prime minister and a senior member of Mr. Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party. Under the banner of "Macky 2012," Mr. Sall denies allegations that he would continue Mr. Wade's governing style, if elected.

Sall told supporters that the most important thing is to have a democratic leader who respects the constitution. He said there must be a balance of power in the country and that a president cannot do whatever he wants.

President Wade is seeking a third term, despite a constitutional provision limiting presidents to two terms in office. His candidacy was approved by the Constitutional Council, which is composed of judges he appointed. Mr. Sall wants the number of judges on the council be increased from five to seven, of which the president would appoint only three.

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