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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora