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Senegal’s Stability Reinforced by Wade’s Move to Stand Down

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Senegal’s political stability, shaken by violent protests against President Abdoulaye Wade, will be bolstered by the leader’s decision to concede defeat and hand power to his former ally, Macky Sall, after an election.

“After some early concerns over the conduct of the incumbent, a peaceful and transparent second round and the readiness of Wade to concede will improve the democratic standing of Senegal and bolster investor confidence,” Anna Osborne, senior analyst at Bath, U.K.-based Maplecroft, a risk analysis company, said in an e-mailed note yesterday.

Wade, 85, conceded after results from the March 25 election showed Sall leading. Today, the country’s Court of Appeal confirmed Sall’s win with a provisional tally of 65.8 percent of the votes cast. Wade received 34.2 percent.

The incumbent faced protests in Dakar and elsewhere against his attempt to extend his 12 years in office after his candidacy was approved by the Constitutional Court in January. Demonstrators claimed his bid for a third term violated a law that limits presidential tenures to two. At least nine people died in clashes with police during the protests, according to Amnesty International.

“This ballot will certainly mark a further step toward consolidating the democratic gains and political stability of Senegal,” said Koffi Sama, former prime minister of Togo and head of the Economic Community of West African States’ observer mission. “There were no major obstacles or incidences” during the vote, he told reporters in Dakar, the capital, yesterday.

Eurobonds

A peaceful transition will support Senegal’s $500 million Eurobonds, which it sold last May, while boosting the country’s institutional credentials and reputation for political stability, said Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist with Standard Bank Group Ltd. in London.

The yield on the bonds, due in 2021, fell for a second day, dropping 5 basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 7.438 percent by 4:12 p.m. in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price rose to 108.56 cents on the dollar.

“While investors generally expected Macky Sall to win the second round, there was some degree of uncertainty about the political transition in the country,” Gadio said in an e-mailed note today. “Wade’s concession of defeat even before the final results were released was probably not fully priced in, which contributed to the gains recorded yesterday.”

New Era

“It’s like we won the World Cup,” Oumar Kante, a 33-year-old unemployed computer technician, said in Dakar yesterday. “It was smart for Wade to give up before it got worse for him.”

A runoff was held after Wade fell short of the majority needed to win in the first round on Feb. 26, taking 34.8 percent of the vote. Sall, a 50-year-old who served as Senegal’s prime minister from 2004 to 2007, won 26.9 percent. Protests against Wade halted after observers said the first-round vote was mainly transparent and as the opposition rallied around Sall.

“A new era begins for Senegal,” Sall said late on March 25, according a statement published on Agence de Presse Senegalaise’s website. “The electorate voted in calm and serenity. Their maturity is a source of pride for all of us.”

Forces for Change

Sall’s coalition, called Benno Bokk Yakaar, or Grouping of Forces for Change in the Wolof language, includes 12 of the 14 candidates who ran in the first round. It brought together civil-society groups that organized the anti-Wade protests, such as Y’en a Marre and Mouvement 23, as well as Grammy award-winning singer Youssou N’Dour, whose candidacy was invalidated by the Constitutional Court.

“These elections show grandeur on the part of both Wade and the Senegalese people,” said Oumar Diallo, a lawyer with the Dakar-based human rights group Raddho, which took part in the anti-Wade protests before the first round. “It will be an interesting time for the country, as we renew our political system and change perspectives.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Skelton in Bamako via Accra at rskelton7@bloomberg.net; Amanda Fortier in Dakar via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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