News

    Senegal Votes in Presidential Runoff Sunday

    Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar (file photo).
    Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade speaks to journalists at a news conference in Dakar (file photo).
    Anne Look

    Senegal votes Sunday in a tightly-contested runoff election that pits opposition leader Macky Sall against his former political mentor, incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade.

    President Abdoulaye Wade waved and touched hands with singing supporters from the moonroof of a black SUV Wednesday as he made campaign stops on the outskirts of Dakar.

    The long caravan of SUVs was a throwback to the "blue marches" of Wade's glory days in the opposition, blue being the signature color of his party.  Hundreds, some say thousands, of supporters would walk through the streets alongside Mr. Wade's car.

    On Wednesday, young people and school children ran to keep up with the cavalcade as it rolled through the main drag of Mbour, 80 kilometers south of the capital.

    Wade's critics say he has fallen out of touch with the population, focusing too much on large projects and not enough on the daily difficulties of ordinary Senegalese.

    As the caravan passes, Abdoulaye Assane Bathily says he is a fervent ruling party militant and predicts Wade will win a resounding victory.  He says Wade promised to build infrastructure to draw investment and he did it.  He says Senegal is now an emerging nation.  He says he prays that Wade will have the strength to continue.

    A young street vendor interrupts Bathily.

    He says, "I have a university degree but do you see what I am doing?"  He pulls herbal ginseng supplements from his backpack that he is selling.  He says the president promised us young people jobs if he came to power but do you see what I am forced to do?  He says Wade cannot be re-elected.

    Wade came to power on a tide of popular support in 2000 and won re-election in 2007 in the first round.  He now says he wants to serve three years of a controversial third mandate to finish his projects, including a new airport outside Dakar.

    The opposition says he is violating a constitutional two-term limit.  Critics say the president wants to pass on power to his son and government minister, Karim, something Wade denies.

    Street protests against Wade's candidacy before the first round of voting February 25 killed at least six people.  The violence shook the population of what has been one of West Africa's most celebrated and peaceful democracies.

    Speaking in the ruling party stronghold of Mbao Wednesday Wade thanks those who voted for him in the first round.  He says fears of violence kept many from voting.  He says the French and the Americans said Senegal would explode, but it did not.  He says the second round will be calm and he expects supporters to vote en masse to raise his majority to 75 percent.

    Wade led the first round with 35 percent of votes.  Macky Sall won just under 27 percent.

    The rest of the ballots - nearly 40 percent - went to a dozen other opposition candidates who have thrown their support behind Sall.

    However, victory is not a mathematical certainty.  Nearly half of Senegal's 5.3 million registered voters did not go to the polls in the first round.

    Sall has set himself up as the anti-Wade, promising to decentralize the government and reduce the cost of daily necessities, like oil, rice and sugar.  At 85 years of age,  Wade is Africa's second oldest leader.  Sall is three decades his junior.

    Sall served in Wade's government as mining minister, prime minister and president of the National Assembly.  He ran Wade's campaign in 2007.  Sall only left the ruling party in late 2008.

    Awa Laye Fall says she will vote for Sall - not because he is better, she says, but because he is all they have.  She says they want Wade out, but she doesn't trust Macky Sall.  She says she doesn't think he is that different.  She says all they can do is try to control him so that he does not follow in Wade's footsteps.

    Sall has sought to shake off the moniker of Wade's apprentice.

    Addressing a rally outside Dakar Tuesday, Sall says he is a free man.  He says he is not beholden to any lobby on the national or international level.  He says he does not owe anything to anyone and has gotten where is through his own efforts.  He says Wade should not be a sore loser.  He says Wade's government should pack its bags and prepare to be swept out by the Senegalese people.

    Sall has run an energetic, populist campaign, while Wade has prioritized one-on-one visits in regional centers aimed at drawing in opposition heavyweights at the local level.  He has also secured the backing of influential leaders in the country's Muslim Mouride brotherhood.

    It promises to be a tight race, and the two allies-turned-opponents appear ready to fight to the finish. Senegalese continue to express concern that disputes over the results could rekindle violence.


    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora