Senegal Ruling Party Coalition Claims Election Landslide

The ruling coalition of Senegal’s President Macky Sall won a widely expected landslide in a legislative election, his prime minister said Monday, bolstering Sall’s prospects for re-election in 2019.

The Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition swept all but three of the country’s 45 electoral departments, Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne told the public Senegalese press agency APS ahead of the official release of results.

The ruling coalition had “emerged victorious” following the vote on Sunday, Dionne said, while the turnout was 54 percent among Senegal’s 6.2 million registered voters, an increase on voting in 2012.

Dionne said President Sall’s opponents were likely to be ahead in the departments of Kedougou, Saraya and possibly Mbacke, but otherwise the BBY list of candidates “had been voted in by the Senegalese people”.

However supporters of Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall (no relation), who is in jail awaiting trial for what supporters say are politically motivated embezzlement charges, claimed his coalition had taken the capital.

The full official results are expected on Wednesday or Thursday.

There were a record 47 lists of candidates contesting the election, with 165 lawmakers due to take seats in parliament.

Some voters complained of being left off the electoral rolls on Sunday, and there were delays to voting in several places, partly due to bad weather.

Sall’s main threat to increasing his power in parliament was posed by ex-leader Abdoulaye Wade, 91, who was aiming to drum up support for his own list of candidates and his son, Karim, who is not on the ballot but has ambitions for the presidency.

Wade won in the central department of Mbacke, the APS agency reported.

Back in Dakar, Cheikh Gueye, a key figure in Mayor Khalifa Sall’s campaign, said the victory of his candidate’s list in the capital was “as clear as the midday sun.”

Warning they would stand their ground both politically and legally, he added: “We will not accept an electoral hold-up,” responding to the prime minister’s claim of victory.

Mayor Sall had been seen as a key contender for 2019 and a potential threat to the president in parliament. Then in March with allegedly misappropriating 1.83 billion CFA francs ($2.85 million, 2.7 million euros) in city funds.

In the central town of Touba, police arrested three members of Wade’s list after angry voters sacked a voting centre, . They were released later Monday, a source there told AFP.

On Sunday, the governor had extended voting there after long delays worsened by heavy overnight storms.

“These are the worst organised elections since independence,” in 1960, said Bamba Fall, a leading member of Mayor Fall’s list, from Dakar.

Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens during at times violent campaigning that left several injured in a country normally known for its peaceful democratic traditions.

Controversy also erupted over the failure to deliver enough new biometric ID cards needed to vote, which hundreds of thousands of Senegalese did not received in time.

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