Wade Steps Aside in Senegal Presidential Run-Off
March 27, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
President Abdoule Wade conceded defeat to Prime Minister Macky Sall in a phone call hours after the March 25 presidential run-off election, Reuters reported. Although the official results will not be available until March 28, early results indicate a landslide win for Sall.
The United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), African Union (AU), French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan all hailed the Senegalese election process as a success. The EU called Senegal’s election a “great example” for the region. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton told BBC that it was “a great victory for democracy in Sengal and in Africa.” The AU also commented, saying that Wade’s concession showed “maturity.” Jean Ping, the AU Commission chairman, said this election has “proved that Africa, despite its challenges, continues to register significant progress towards democracy and transparent elections,” and that Senegal is a “model of democracy.” Groups organized by youth and women promoted participation in the run-off. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan praised the electoral process in Senegal, stating that: “If there was ever any doubt, this election has proved that the foundation of Senegalese democracy is rock-solid.” The Brookings Institution said that Wade’s call to Sall was “the ultimate sign of a mature democracy.” Brookings also cited the active role of civil society in the elections as a positive sign for Senegalese democracy.
The UN called the run-off elections free and fair, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, according to Reuters, the EU did notice some irregularities, including the inclusion of 130,000 names of dead people on the voter list.
Sall gained support as an opposition candidate by criticizing Wade’s spending on projects such as the African Renaissance Monument, and is quoted by Reueters as saying that “while those in power built monuments and motorways, ordinary Senegalese were struggling to get access to drinking water, healthcare and education.” Sall has promised to reduce taxes on rice, a dietary staple in Senegal, and lower the cost of living. BBC reported that he also “promised that, if elected, he will shorten the presidential term limit to two years from the current seven, and enforce the two-term limit.”
Wade’s defeat in the run-off comes after an embattled campaign to prove eligibility to run for re-election. The Senegalese Supreme Court allowed Wade to run for a contested third term despite the two-term limit that was implemented after he was elected into office in 2000. While in office, Wade changed the presidential term from five years to seven. The resulting popular protests against Wade’s candidacy prompted dozens of candidates to compete against Wade in the February 26 election, when he eked out 34.8 percent of the vote while Sall received 26.6 percent.
For previous news on Senegal, please see:
Senegal Election Run-Off Scheduled for March 25
BBC – Macky Sall Senegal Election Win ‘Example for Africa’
Brookings – Peaceful Elections in Senegal: Solidifying the Democratic Process One Country at a Time
Los Angeles Times – Senegal Election Seen as Positive Step for Democracy in Africa
Reuters – Senegal Wakes to New Era After Wade Bows Out
Reuters – Senegal’s Sall: The Dark House Who Beat “The Hare”