Senegal’s ruling coalition claims victory but opposition rejects

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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s ruling coalition said it won 30 of 46 departments in Sunday’s legislative elections, giving it a majority over the opposition.

The leader of the ruling coalition and former Prime Minister Aminata Touré claimed victory on Sunday evening.

“Of the 46 departments of Senegal, we have gained 30 departments. So we gave a large majority to our president,” Touré said.

The leader of President Macky Sall‘s coalition, Benno Bokk Yaakar, stressed that the information is “precise, exact, fair and not invented” with victories in the North, West and Center zones of Senegal.

“We congratulate all citizens who voted for us,” Yaakar said.

Dakar Mayor Barthelemy Dias denounced the results, saying “the opposition won the elections” and calling on young people to mobilize to “preserve their victory”.

Provisional official election results are expected later this week. The Autonomous National Electoral Commission, the body responsible for monitoring and supervising the elections, said the polls were held calmly and peacefully.

About 6.8 million voters were expected at the polls to elect 165 deputies to the National Assembly. The opposition has focused its campaign on the need to vote against the ruling coalition to prevent Sall from seeking a third term in the 2024 presidential elections.

The political atmosphere in Senegal is tense. Violent protests erupted last year after Sall’s main opponent, Ousmane Sonko, was arrested for rape and more than a dozen people were killed. Sonko, who came third in the 2019 election, denies the allegations and his supporters have voiced their opposition to the president.

This year Sonko and another of Sall’s main opponents were disqualified as candidates, sparking more widespread anger and protests in which three people died in June.

Senegal, with a population of 17 million, is known for its stability in West Africa where there have been coups in three countries since 2020 and where leaders have changed laws in order to remain in power for third terms.

Anger grew in the region amid economic concerns as fuel and food prices soared due to war in Ukraine.

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