The ruling coalition in Senegal loses a comfortable majority

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DAKAR, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Senegal’s ruling coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) lost its comfortable majority in parliament, gaining just two more seats than two allied opposition coalitions in the weekend’s legislative elections -end, the electoral commission announced on Thursday.

Provisional results from Sunday’s vote showed President Macky Sall’s BBY winning 82 of 165 seats, one shy of the 83 required for an outright majority, while the alliance of opposition coalitions Yewwi Askane Wi ( YAW) and Wallu Senegal won 80.

“I salute the Senegalese people (…) for the exemplary nature of our democracy and the credibility of our electoral system,” Sall said on Twitter after the publication of the results.

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BBY and the YAW-Wallu alliance had previously claimed victory, with opposition leader Ousmane Sonko saying the ruling coalition would try to steal the vote and calling on his supporters to be ready to defend their choice. Read more

BBY won 125 seats in the last legislative ballot in 2017, and the loss of 43 seats reflects growing public acrimony towards Sall, fueled in part by his refusal to make it clear whether he plans to run for a third term in 2024 in violation of term limits.

Frustrations in the generally stable West African country have also been stoked by economic hardship linked to the coronavirus pandemic and rising fuel and food prices.

“The Senegalese people have given a real lesson in democracy to the political class,” BBY member Amadou Sall told Reuters.

On Wednesday, YAW, of which Sonko’s PASTEF party is a member, said it would not accept the results, citing alleged voting irregularities in northern regions.

A BBY representative said the allegations were baseless.

The election commission has not commented on the allegations and YAW says its request to investigate the irregularities was denied by the commission.

Tensions have been high in the country of 17.5 million since violent protests erupted last year when Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, was arrested on charges of rape. Sonko denies the allegations. The case against him is still open.

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Written by Sofia Christensen and Alessandra Prentice Editing by Alexander Winning, Frances Kerry and Lincoln Feast

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