Senegal’s President Concedes Election to Rival Sall

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 1:05 am (UTC-5)
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Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat in Sunday's runoff presidential election, ending his controversial bid for a third term after unofficial results showed voters backing rival Macky Sall.

State television reported that Mr. Wade called Mr. Sall hours after polls closed to congratulate him on the victory. Mr. Sall's supporters celebrated in the streets of the capital, Dakar.

VOA reporter Anne Look reported that, at a news conference late Sunday, Mr. Sall said the vote marks a new era for Senegal and that he will be the president for all Senegalese.

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.