Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade will face his former prime minister in a runoff after he failed to win a majority of votes needed to clinch a third term in office in the West African nation.
Wade, 85, got 34.8 percent of ballots counted after the Feb. 26 vote, Radio Futurs Medias reported, citing results from the Court of Appeal today in Dakar, the capital. Macky Sall, the 50-year-old candidate who came second, got 26.5 percent. A candidate needed at least 50 percent of votes to win in the first round. The runoff will be held March 18.
The election was held a month after the country’s Constitutional Court approved Wade’s bid to extend his 12 years in office. Opposition groups including Mouvement 23 said his candidacy violated a rule limiting presidential terms to two. Wade said the rule didn’t apply to him because he was already in office when it was enacted.
M23 was among the groups that organized days of protests which turned violent amid clashes with police, leaving at least nine dead, according to Amnesty International.
“Macky Sall will need to go and see the other candidates to get their blessing and become the chosen candidate of the M23 coalition,” said Abdou Fall, Senegal analyst with Pretoria, South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies. “If he is going to win, he will need their support,” he said by phone from Dakar.
Sall was prime minister from 2004 to 2008. He pledged to boost growth in Senegal’s $13 billion economy by attracting investors and cutting corruption in an interview Feb. 12. He told reporters yesterday that he would lower presidential mandates to five years from the current seven years if he wins.
Wade must earn the support of Senegalese who decided not to vote, Fall said, putting the figure at around 40 percent. “If he can appeal to these people, he has a chance.”
Voting was “held in acceptable conditions of freedom and transparency,” said Koffi Sama, former prime minister of Togo and head of the Economic Community of West African States’ observer mission. “No major incidents or irregularities” were found, he said in a Feb. 27 statement.
The tension that led to weeks of protest has eased, said Fall. “There is a sense of resignation and a feeling of satisfaction that there is going to be a second round,” he said.
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