I'm happy to report that we left Senegal Monday morning Feb 20th for our trip to Sine-Saloum and returned safely Friday, Feb 24th - and I will post a blog about that - but since this country and the blog has been on the theme of the Presidential election I'll wrap up with the current situation. The weekend up to the election was actually rather quiet in our neighborhood. I'm not sure what it was like in others but after what we saw the previous week - it was a treat to sense the calm. Maybe people were just tuckered out from all the events prior. The elections took place on Sunday, February 26th. While I did not have the knowledge of where a polling place might be in my neighborhood to learn more of the process - I did get this picture the next day of a proud Senegalese mans pinkie the who voted. The ink on the finger ensures a person cannot go to another polling station and vote or even try to vote for someone else. And as I had the pleasure of seeing either some of the security men who work at the bank or whose jobs it is to watch the various apartments on Rue Jules Ferry - they were proud to show me their pinkies too.
One of the guards asked me if I had voted and I had to explain to him I was American and could not vote here. I then asked him who he was for and he said Macky Sall. He wanted a change. I then looked at him and said in my best French "a population of the US felt that way in 2008 and voted for Barak Obama - maybe Macky Sall is your Barak" - we both laughed. We had a healthy conversation about the challenge of the election with 14 candidates and the opposition not being able to come together early on and support just one candidate when the candidate list was announced. Statistically as well it seemed improbable that any candidate would achieve the 50% needed to win - post election the results are in and Wade with 34.8%, Sall with 26.5% , Moustapha Niasse with 13.2%, Idrissa Seck 7.8 % and it just declined for each candidate from there, now presenting the country with a 2nd round of elections between Wade and Sall scheduled for March 26th. More exciting times to come. And it's been a great opportunity for us to talk to Parker and Addison about civics
from the BBC News - March 1
Senegal presidential poll results confirm run-off
Macky Sall is hoping to marshal the opposition behind him for the second round of voting
Senegal is to hold a second round of presidential elections after incumbent Abdoulaye Wade failed to win outright, election officials have confirmed. Mr Wade gained 34.8% of the vote in Sunday's first round.He faces a run-off next month against his former prime minister, Macky Sall, who came second with 26.5%.
Mr Sall urged the opposition to rally behind him against Mr Wade, who has been in power since 2000 and is seeking a controversial third term.
"I'm sure the desire for change of the Senegalese people will give me the victory in the second round," Mr Sall said at a press conference after the results were announced.
Two other ex-prime ministers took third and fourth place: Moustapha Niasse with 13.2% and Idrissa Seck with 7.8%.
Mr Niasse has already urged his supporters not to support Mr Wade, but has so far not officially endorsed Mr Sall.
Abdoulaye Wade vs Macky SallAbdoulaye Wade (left)
- Age: 85
- Veteran opposition candidate
- Finally elected in 2000, promising change
- Has plans for huge projects to develop Senegal
- Accused of grooming his son, Karim, to succeed him
- Age: 50
- Mayor of western city of Fatick
- Former prime minister
- Fell out with president after summoning Karim Wade to answer questions in parliament
- Only opposition candidate to run nationwide campaign
He belongs to the opposition grouping, June 23 Movement (M23), which has campaigned against Mr Wade's third term bid."The M23 message is that Wade must get out. The fundamental objective is that Wade's third term mandate does not happen," AFP news agency quotes M23 co-ordinator Alioune Tine as saying in Senegal's Quotidien newspaper.
Mr Sall promised that if elected, he would shorten the presidential term to five years from the current seven, and enforce a two-term limit.
He also promised to bring in measures to reduce the price of basic foodstuffs.
Analysts say Mr Wade, who faced 13 challengers in the first round, is likely to struggle in the run-off.
His bid for a third consecutive term has sparked weeks of violent protests in recent months, leading to about six deaths, although polling on Sunday was largely peaceful.
The second round is scheduled for 18 March.
On Tuesday, Mr Wade's admitted he had failed to win more than 50% in the first round.
He also said that he would be opening talks with opposition candidates ahead of the run-off.
The president was booed as he cast his vote on Sunday in the capital, Dakar - and he lost in his own constituency.
Senegal's constitutional court ruled in January that Mr Wade could stand again on the grounds that his first term had not counted since it began before the two-term limit was introduced in 2001.
Senegal, a former French colony, is seen as a stable democracy with an unbroken series of elections since independence in 1960.
It remains the only West African country where the army has never seized power.