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Senegal: Opposition claims victory in legislative elections

Khalifa Sall, member of the opposition   -  
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Sylvain Cherkaoui/Sylvain Cherkaoui

Legislative election

The presidential camp and the opposition each stood firm on Monday in claiming to have won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Senegal, as the vote count continued.

"What is undeniable is that we are the ones who won this election," said Khalifa Sall, one of the opposition leaders, during a press conference of his coalition. "We won and we will not accept that they steal our victory," he continued.

"The Senegalese have decided on a cohabitation at the level of the National Assembly," also said Déthié Fall, another leader of the movement, after listing a series of acquired constituencies.

"We reject any possibility of cohabitation and (...) reassure our supporters that we remain the majority after this election, despite an advance of the opposition," said Aminata Touré, head of the presidential coalition's list, on Monday evening.

These legislative elections, the last before the presidential election of 2024, are a test after the local elections of January, won by the opposition in major cities of this West African country known for its stability, such as Dakar, Ziguinchor (south) and Thies (west).

On Sunday night, Aminata Toure, had assured to have won 30 departments, out of 46 that Senegal has and constituencies abroad, while acknowledging the defeat in Dakar, the capital. "This undoubtedly gives us a majority in the National Assembly," she said.

This statement was followed by a statement from the main opposition coalition, which also claimed victory, speaking of a "comfortable majority" for the Yewwi/Wallu intercoalition.

"We wish to warn national and international opinion against any attempt to manipulate the results (...) and we also call on all Senegalese to stand up for the security of the people's victory," the statement added.

- Alliance -

"Yewwi Askan Wi" (Liberate the People in Wolof), the main opposition coalition, formed around Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, has allied itself with the "Wallu Senegal" coalition (Save Senegal in Wolof), led by former President Abdoulaye Wade.

"The provisional results of the legislative elections show that the President of the Republic Macky Sall has lost the elections (...) and that he will not have a majority in the National Assembly," said Monday Wallu.

The single-round elections are aimed at renewing the 165 seats of the unicameral parliament, largely controlled by the presidential camp, for five years.

Macky Sall has promised to appoint a prime minister - a post he abolished and then reinstated in December 2021 - from the winning party.

Overall provisional results will be announced by the National Commission for the Census of Votes (CNRV) no later than Friday, but local media and the main political movements have been reporting partial results since Sunday evening.

Early media reports indicate a close election and victories for the Yewwi/Wallu inter-coalition in several urban centers.

- Quiet vote -

Voting took place on Sunday in a calm atmosphere without major incidents, with a turnout of 47 percent, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

The Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Cena), which is overseeing the vote, deployed some 22,000 observers. Experts from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and La Francophonie were also present.

MPs are elected by a combination of proportional representation with national lists for 53 MPs and majority voting in the departments for 97 others. The diaspora has 15 deputies.

The election is taking place against a backdrop of rising prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, an argument used by the opposition against the government, which is highlighting its subsidies for petroleum products and foodstuffs as well as its infrastructure construction program.

The opposition also wants to force Mr. Sall to give up any hope of running in 2024. President Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, is keeping his intentions vague with 19 months to go before the presidential election.

The pre-campaign had been marked by violent demonstrations that had left at least three people dead because of the Constitutional Council's invalidation of the national list of the coalition led by Mr. Sonko, who were forced to give up participating in the elections.