President Macky Sall’s party has conceded defeat in the city of Dakar and the southern town of Ziguinchor in local elections widely seen as a test of his popularity in Senegal.
There are growing doubts over whether Sall will seek to extend his rule beyond the two-term limit in a nation long regarded as one of Africa’s more stable democracies after voting in municipal and regional elections on Sunday.
These elections served as a prelude to a legislative election in June and a presidential election in 2024.
Despite our best efforts, we were not able to capture Dakar or Ziguinchor,” said the coalition leader, Benno Bokk Yaakaar, in a statement late Sunday. Besides congratulating the other candidates, it called the election a triumph for democracy.
Preliminary results show Barthelemy Dias as the leading candidate for mayor of Dakar. He posted videos of large crowds celebrating in the streets on social media.
In 2018 Macky Sall jailed former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall on corruption charges in what was widely perceived as a plot to silence a political rival, Dias was an ally of Khalifa Sall, no relation to the president.
Sall, 60, was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019.
He has not ruled out seeking a third term following a constitutional referendum in 2016 which may reset the clock on his term. Alpha Conde of Guinea and Alassane Ouattara of the Ivory Coast both used constitutional measures to run for office again despite violent protests in their countries.
One of Sall’s rivals, Ousmane Sonko, won the preliminary race in Ziguinchor, Senegal’s capital.
Sonko was arrested last year following a rape accusation, which he denied. His arrest sparked days of violent protests and accusations again that President Sall was interfering with the judiciary to target potential challengers. read more
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