Legislative in Senegal: the presidential camp claims a victory contested by the opposition

Legislative in Senegal: the presidential camp claims a victory contested by the opposition

The presidential coalition claimed victory in the legislative elections held on Sunday in Senegal, a success contested by the opposition, which speaks of a “prefabricated majority”.

“We won 30 departments” out of the 46 in Senegal and constituencies abroad. “This undoubtedly gives us a majority in the National Assembly,” the head of the presidential coalition, Aminata Touré, told reporters on Sunday evening.

“We have given a majority in the National Assembly to our coalition president”, Macky Sall, added Ms. Touré, without giving the number of deputies obtained by her camp or specifying whether it is a relative majority or absolute. She acknowledged the defeat of her coalition in Dakar.

The response to Ms. Touré was quick on the opposition side. A leader of the coalition led by the main opponent Ousmane Sonko, Barthélémy Dias, spoke of “vulgar lies” and “prefabricated majority” on private radio RFM.

“Cohabitation is inevitable. You lost this election at the national level. We will not accept it. This forfeiture will not pass,” added Mr. Dias, also mayor of Dakar, without giving a figure.

The opposition has said it wants to take advantage of these elections to impose cohabitation on President Sall, who hopes to keep a large majority.

These legislative elections are a test after the local elections in January, won by the opposition in large cities in this West African country renowned for its stability, such as Dakar, Ziguinchor (south) and Thiès (west).

The legislative elections, in a single round, aim to renew for five years the 165 seats of the unicameral Parliament largely controlled by the presidential camp.

Macky Sall has promised to appoint a Prime Minister – a position he had abolished and then restored in December 2021 – within the victorious formation of the elections.

Some seven million Senegalese were called for this election which took place without major incidents, whose participation was 22% at the national level Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (local and GMT), according to the Ministry of the Interior.

– 22,000 observers –

“I wish (…) that there are no disputes. It’s like in football. You need a winner and a loser,” said Lamine Sylva, a 60-year-old painter who is married and has a family. .

“I hope that the future Assembly will be made up of government deputies and a strong representation of the opposition for contradictory debates,” El Yahya Sall, a retired soldier, told AFP.

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

The deputies are elected according to a method that mixes proportional voting with national lists for 53 parliamentarians, and majority voting in the departments for 97 others. The diaspora has 15 deputies.

Eight coalitions are in the running for these elections, including those of the majority and “Yewwi Askan Wi” (Free the People in Wolof), the main opposition coalition, formed around Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election. .

This is allied with the coalition “Wallu Senegal” (Save Senegal in Wolof), led by ex-president Abdoulaye Wade. The least well placed in one department undertakes to support the other to “impose governmental cohabitation”.

The election takes place in a context of rising prices, a consequence in particular of the war in Ukraine, an argument used by the opposition against the government, which highlights the subsidies for petroleum products and foodstuffs as well as its program to build infrastructure

– Third term? –

The opposition also wants to force Mr. Sall – who voted Sunday morning in Fatick, 150 km southeast of Dakar – to give up any hint of a candidacy in 2024. President Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, remains unclear about his intentions 19 months before the presidential election.

“If Macky Sall loses them (the legislative elections), he will no longer speak of a 3rd term”, assured Mr. Sonko.

The pre-campaign had been marked by violent demonstrations which had caused at least three deaths due to the invalidation by the Constitutional Council of the holders of the national list of the coalition led by Mr. Sonko.

Several opposition figures, including Ousmane Sonko himself, were forced to give up participating in the elections, denouncing a strategy by the president to ward off his opponents.

On June 29, the opposition finally calmed things down by agreeing to take part in the ballot, which it had hitherto threatened to prevent.

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