Senegal votes for general election amid growing political discontent

Senegal votes for general election amid growing political discontent

Published on: 07/31/2022 – 11:28 am Modified on: 07/31/2022 – 20:43

The Senegalese voted to elect a new parliament on Sunday. This general election is a test for the opposition, which wants to rein in President Macky Sall’s ambitions.

Election day in Senegal. Seven million voters were called to the polls on Sunday 31 July to renew the 165 seats in Parliament. A vote at the end of which the opposition hopes to force cohabitation on President Macky Sall, who wants to retain a large majority.

These general elections are a test after March’s local elections, which were won by the opposition in major cities in this West African country known for its stability, such as Dakar, Ziguinchor (south) and Thiès (west).

Polling stations opened from 8am (GMT and local) and gradually began to close at 6pm, like at a polling center in Grand-Médine, a popular district of Dakar. The count began immediately at the center, which has 16 polling stations, AFP journalists noted.

Around seven million Senegalese were called to vote in this election, which took place without major incidents. According to the Interior Ministry, as of 1 p.m. nationally, the turnout was 22 percent.

The Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Cena), which oversees voting, deployed some 22,000 observers across the territory. Around forty experts from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are also present. MPs are elected using a system that mixes proportional representation with national lists for 53 MPs and majority voting in departments for 97 others. The diaspora has 15 MPs.

>> Read also: Senegal: youth, the other issue of the general elections

Force a coalition on the President

Eight coalitions are running for these elections, including the majority coalition and “Yewwi Askan Wi” (Free the People in the Wolof language), the main opposition coalition formed around Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the presidential election. from 2019.

It is allied with the Wallu Senegal (Save Senegal in Wolof) coalition, led by ex-President Abdoulaye Wade. The worst-placed in one department pledges to support the other to “enforce state coexistence”.

At 96, the former head of state from 2000 to 2012 made his way through a crowd of activists to go to the polls in Dakar in the early afternoon.

The election takes place in the context of rising prices, in particular because of the consequences of the war in Ukraine, arguments of the opposition against the government, which emphasizes subsidies for petroleum products and food and its infrastructure development program.

>> For further reading: Senegal: Rural population “forgotten” by the parliamentary elections.

The opposition also wants to force Macky Sall – who voted this morning in Fatick, 150km southeast of Dakar – to give up any hint of a candidacy in 2024. Elected for seven years in 2012 and re-elected for five years in 2019, the president remains vague about his intentions 19 months before the presidential election.

The pre-campaign was marked by violent demonstrations that had claimed at least three lives after the Constitutional Council invalidated the holders of the national list of Mr Sonko-led coalition.

Several opposition figures, including Ousmane Sonko, were forced to withdraw from the elections, not without urging their supporters to protest what they saw as a ruse by President Macky Sall’s attempt to sack his opponents under the guise of legal means.

Apart from the first demonstration, all others had been banned by the authorities. On June 29, the opposition finally calmed things down by agreeing to participate in the election they had previously threatened to prevent.

With AFP