Senegal Set to Vote in First Local Elections Since 2019

Senegal will vote for mayors and local representatives on Sunday in the first election since last year’s riots, in a vote seen as a key test for President Macky Sall.

The election will also be the first in the country since 2019, when the president won a second term.

Sall has come under increasing criticism since then, facing accusations of arranging court cases against his rivals and of planning a bid for a third presidential term in 2024.

In March last year, Senegal was also rocked by several days of clashes and looting after opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was summoned to court to answer charges of rape in a case that he said was politically motivated.

At least 12 people were killed nationwide, a toll that shocked a country considered a beacon of stability in a volatile region.

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Sunday’s poll is viewed as a bellwether for the president’s support, and comes ahead of parliamentary elections expected in July.

Sall, 60, was first elected in 2012 on promises to help the poor in the nation of 17 million people.

He is well respected on the international scene, but his critics view him as serving the business interests of Senegal’s former colonial power France.

The political opposition also fears that Sall will seek to exploit constitutional changes approved in a 2016 to argue that a two-term limit for presidents does not apply, and run again.

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