Sall Defeats Senegalese President in Runoff Vote

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
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Opposition candidate Macky Sall says a new era can begin in Senegal after his victory in Sunday's runoff presidential election.

Unofficial results showed voters backed Mr. Sall over President Abdoulaye Wade, who was running for a controversial third term.

Mr. Sall told reporters the election is a victory for all of Senegal.

“I also salute those who chose the other candidate. I will be the president of all Senegalese people.”

He said he will represent all of the Senegalese people. His supporters rallied in the capital, Dakar, to celebrate his victory.

Mr. Wade said in a statement he called Mr. Sall to congratulate him. He also thanked his own supporters and urged them to look toward upcoming parliamentary elections.

Official provisional results are still days away, but observers praised the vote. Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo led the African Union's observer mission and told VOA the election was transparent and peaceful.

“The election this time because we had less number of contestants to deal with was smoother, was more orderly.”

Mr. Sall was one of 13 opposition candidates in the first round of the election, which Mr. Wade won with 35 percent of the vote. The losing candidates turned their support to Mr. Sall, who promised to reform the government and lower basic food costs.

Toga Gayewea McIntosh, vice president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), told VOA the bloc will announce the findings of its monitoring mission later Monday, but said the vote seems to have been peaceful.

“I think we got a slightly higher turnout than there was in the first round. All indications are pointing to that direction. Secondly, it was was orderly done.”

Senegal's constitution limits the president to two terms, and Mr. Wade's bid for a third mandate sparked deadly riots. The 85-year-old said he could run for a third term because constitutional term limits took effect after he was first elected.