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Senegalese Court Certifies President Wade's Re-Election


Senegal's highest court has certified a first-round victory by incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade in last month's presidential election, dismissing complaints of irregularities by two of his challengers. Kari Barber has more from VOA's Dakar bureau.

Senegal's Constitutional Council has announced that Mr. Wade officially took nearly 56 percent of the vote in the election two weeks ago.

The court rejected appeals by opposition leaders, including Socialist Party candidate Ousmane Tanor Dieng. Dieng finished third in the election.

Dieng has complained of voters casting multiple ballots, people using voting cards that were not their own and refugees from neighboring countries coming into Senegal to vote.

A spokesman for Dieng's party, Mamadou Barry, says the high court has historically sided with the president.

"There has been a history of the court taking the side of the president. We have seen that many times," said Barry. "We just wanted to go legally and see what the response of the court would be, but we are absolutely not surprised. But we are disappointed."

International observers say the election was held in a generally satisfactory manner. They say there were some irregularities, but none were serious enough to affect the outcome of the vote.

Barry says the results may be finalized, but the political battle is not over for his party.

"The Constitutional Court battle is finished, but the political battle is not finished," he said. "We still have elections ahead for the House of Parliament, so we are going to be fighting to get the majority there."

The opposition Socialist Party ruled Senegal politics for decades before Mr. Wade came to power.

Spokesman with Mr. Wade's party Abdourahmane Ndiaye says Senegal's electoral process is well organized, and leaves no room for fraud.

"There is nothing irregular in this election. They know it," said Ndiaye. "The media was there in the election process from the registration to the proclamation of the results. All the candidates had their delegates at all the stages. It is unthinkable."

Ndiaye says that, as Mr. Wade stated in his victory speech last week, opposition leader and second-place candidate Idrissa Seck will be investigated on accusations that he stole money from the state while he was in government. Seck spent more than half a year in jail related to a corruption probe, but was released before the election.

Senegal is widely viewed as one of the most peaceful and stable democracies in West Africa. Mr. Wade, in his eighties, is to serve a five-year term in the nation, where a lack of employment opportunities has caused a wave of thousands of would-be illegal migrants each year to strike out in rickety canoes headed for Spain's Canary Islands.

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