Senegal holds local elections

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AFP

A man casts his ballot to vote in municipal and provincial elections at a polling station in Dakar. Picture: Seyllou

Dakar -

Senegal voted in municipal and provincial elections on Sunday, seen as a key test for President Macky Sall whose party is riven by divisions two years after winning a bitterly fought election.

Sall's Alliance for the Republic (APR) struggled to agree on party lists heading into the election and in some cases could not come up with a common candidate.

But the party, which won a crushing victory in 2012 - turning out of office President Abdoulaye Wade whose efforts to seek a third term sparked violence in the country - is hoping to shore up support.

The local elections are a key test for Sall and his party which control only a few local towns.

Local media reported voting was extended past the 18h00 GMT closing time in areas where polling stations had opened late due to election officials and equipment not arriving in time.

More than 5.3 million people were eligible to vote for more than 2 700 councillors across the country, a record number of candidates, up from 1 600 in 2009.

Those councillors from over 600 districts will in turn elect mayors and heads of provinces.

After casting his vote, Sall complained that the high number of candidates hindered the voting process.

The president called for “a quiet vote” after a campaign marred by violence.

No major incidents were reported on Sunday although officials and local media said turnout was low.

The March 2012 presidential election was marred by deadly riots sparked by Wade's efforts to stay in office after 12 years in power. At least 15 people were killed and 150 injured.

However, Sall won with 65 percent and Wade's acceptance of his defeat and the peaceful handover of power was hailed by the international community.

Senegal has typically been praised as one of the region's success stories, being alone among its mainland neighbours never to have undergone a military coup.

The APR hopes the elections will allow it to strengthen its base despite poor economic results and frustrations among the Senegalese that election promises have yet to be fulfilled.

Preliminary results are expected later on Sunday, with the official outcome to be announced by the end of next week. - Sapa-AFP


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