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Provisional Results Show Gains for Senegalese Opposition


Provisional results from municipal elections in Senegal show big gains for political opponents of President Abdoulaye Wade. The polling is seen as a test of strength for the ruling party before presidential elections in 2012.

These were the first elections for Senegal's opposition parties since they boycotted presidential and legislative balloting in 2007.

President Wade campaigned hard for his ruling coalition, traveling throughout the country before polls that saw his son Karim enter elected politics for the first time as a candidate for the municipal council of the capital, Dakar.

Provisional results tallied by local private radio stations show the ruling party losing in the Wades' constituency in the Point E neighborhood. The ruling Sopi coalition also appears to have lost the constituency of Prime Minister Hadjibou Soumare' in the city of Thies.

With about half of registered voters turning out Sunday to elect 20,000 regional, town and rural councilors, the Senegalese Press Agency says the 35-member opposition coalition won all six constituencies in the western Ndindy district and seven of eight constituencies in the northern Louga district.

The ruling coalition appears to have scored a big win in the southern city of Ziguinchor by unseating a mayor who had served for 25 years.

But provisional results from these municipal elections reflect a change from 2002 when the ruling coalition won more than half the vote and gained control of councils in Dakar and other cities.

President Wade's election in 2000 ended four decades of Socialist Party rule since independence from France in 1960. But since his re-election in 2007, much of the speculation about who will succeed the 82-year-old leader has focused on his son, Karim.

Karim Wade already serves as a presidential advisor and led preparations for last year's summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Dakar. Then-prime minister Macky Sall was voted out as president of the National Assembly after asking Karim Wade to testify before a hearing investigating his oversight of spending on that conference.

Asked by a local radio station last week if he would run for president to succeed his father in 2012, Karim Wade said, "Only God knows."


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