Senegal reacts as incumbent Macky Sall wins Presidential election

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Demba Kandji, Head of National Vote Counting Commission, announces the result of the first round of Senegal’s presidential election in which President Macky Sall won 58% of votes, Dakar, Senegal, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sylvain Cherkaoui TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Senegal’s incumbent President Macky Sall has won a second term in office with 58 percent of the vote, following last Sunday’s Presidential elections.

The official provisional results released by the National Commission for Vote Counting indicate Sall garnered 2.5 million votes of the 4.4 million votes cast during the February 24 presidential election.

The results reflect a majority of polling stations with the exception of those in the diaspora.

“It is remaining a few centers from overseas that we haven’t received the ballot papers. But despite this delay, all the ballots cast by Senegalese have been counted,” head of the National Vote Counting Commission Demba Kandji said on Thursday.

The Constitutional Court is expected to give the final result in a week’s time, after verifying the provisional results.

Sall’s majority win means that he will be, baring a challenge by the Constitutional Court, re-elected without a second run-off vote.

Opposition candidate Idrissa Seck came in second with 898,674 (20 percent) of the vote, followed by Ousmane Sonko with 687,065 (14 percent).  

Reactions to the results have been mixed, with a variety of strong opinions surrounding the five candidates who were running for the elections.  

At Macky Sall’s APR party headquarters, loud cheers broke out across the room as the results were announced. Confetti decorated with Sall’s face flew into the air and dancing and chanting took over the streets outside.

“President Macky Sall scored almost three times more points over the second. Exactly 2.8 times more votes. This is what we call a victory with a score without (the need for an) appeal,” said Aminata Tour, Macky Sall’s campaign director.

Meanwhile, in another part of Dakar, minor riots broke out as students clashed with police at University Cheick Anta Diop in protest over the results.

Riot police fire tear gas on student protestors at a university campus following provisional results showing President Macky Sall winning in Dakar, Senegal, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sylvain Cherkaoui

Sall has previously served as president for seven years and this will be his last term in office. He will serve for another five years after a referendum shortened the Presidential term.

His team played on the incumbent’s economic successes and completion of projects including a new international airport and Diamniadio, a futuristic city on the outskirts of Dakar.

“For the next five years, he will continue the transformation of the country. He will continue the reform and will try to put Senegal as one of the most resilient economies and also to increase the well being of the Senegalese people,” Mamadou Fall Kane, an advisor for Macky Sall told CGTN.

Sall’s win does not come as a notable to surprise to observers, who widely predicted his electoral success.

People celebrate on the streets after result announcement of the first round of Senegal’s presidential election in which President Macky Sall won with 58 percent of votes, Dakar, Senegal, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sylvain Cherkaoui

Two of Sall’s strongest challengers, Karim Wade and Khalifa Sall, had been disqualified from running for the presidency following corruption charges. Critics saw this as an attempt to increase the incumbent’s chances of a second term, while Sall’s camp claimed it part of a campaign to clamp down on corruption.

Candidates have 72 hours to challenge the provisional results in court. The Constitutional Court will review any petitions and declare definitive results in the coming days.

However, while opposition leader Idrissa Seck announced that he rejects the results, he added that he would not appeal the elections.

4.4 million voters took part in the election, around 66 percent of the 6.7 million registered to vote.

Senegal is widely described as one of the most stable democracies in West Africa, with a history of peaceful elections.