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Senegal's Wade Concedes Electoral Defeat, Draws Praise

Supporters of Senegalese opposition challenger Macky Sall celebrate their candidates election victory in Dakar, March 25, 2012.
Supporters of Senegalese opposition challenger Macky Sall celebrate their candidates election victory in Dakar, March 25, 2012.
Anne Look

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential runoff election, winning praise from the international community, and his own people.

On Monday, ssupporters of opposition leader Macky Sall continued their celebrations as unofficial results showed the opposition leader trouncing Wade in Sunday's vote.

The incumbent president telephoned Sall Sunday evening to congratulate him, just three-and-a-half hours after polls closed.

Sall held a press conference late Sunday night, hailing his victory as a new era for Senegal. He saluted his allies and supporters, as well as those who voted for Wade. Sall also declared he will be the president for all Senegalese and quickly get to work to meet their immense expectations.

The great winner of this election remains the Senegalese people, he said.

Senegal has long been an anchor of stability in a part of the world more commonly overrun by military coups, election-related violence and "presidents for life."

Despite deadly protests ahead of the first round of voting on February 26, Sunday's vote was calm. Wade's concession of defeat was met by an almost palpable sigh of relief.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy called the move a "testimony to Mr. Wade's commitment to democracy" in an open letter to the president.

The cloud of tension that has hung over Dakar in recent months seemed to evaporate Monday. The president's supporters and opponents alike say they are ready to forgive and forget.

Macky Sall

  • Age: 50
  • Former protege of outgoing President Wade
  • Served as prime Minister 2004 - 2007
  • Mayor of his hometown of Fatick
  • Fell out with president after his son, Karim Wade, was called to parliament to answer questions
  • Formed the Alliance for the Republic Party in 2008
  • Backed by all main opposition candidates in 2nd round

But some Wade supporters were clearly disappointed. Ngefa Diouf said the incumbent president feels like a father to her.

Wade did many good things, Diouf said, but perhaps it was his time to go and allow a new generation to take over. She also expressed pride that he conceded so quickly.  Senegalese, she said, will remember the president well.

At 85 years of age, Wade is Africa's second oldest leader. Sall is more than three decades his junior.

Sall is the president's former political protege. He held various high level government posts before a falling out with his mentor in late 2008.  

The entirety of Senegal's previously scattered opposition united behind Sall for the second-round vote. He hit the right notes with voters, promising from his first days in office to reduce the price of daily food goods like rice, sugar and cooking oil. He pledged to decentralize power in the government and audit the country's finances.

Twenty-six-year-old Mame Diaby said the youth are behind Sall. Life is too expensive, she said, and they want change.

Wade was seeking a controversial third term. He came to power in 2000 on a tide of popular support. But electricity cuts, unemployment and rising food prices have since disenchanted many Senegalese.

The increasingly prominent role of the president's son, Karim, was another point of contention.

Wade's greatest political misstep was acting as if the state belonged to him and his family, said analyst and opposition strategist Latif Coulibaly. When Wade made his son a government minister, he said, the Senegalese were shocked, having never known a dynastic style of rule.

Wade does not look prepared to leave politics altogether. In a written statement, he called on ruling party supporters to regroup ahead of June's legislative elections.

Senegal's electoral commission is expected to announce official provisional results of Sunday's vote later this week.

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by: nyadengawamuvazhi
April 20, 2012 5:31 PM
i wish if this wind can blow from senegal into my contry may be i can woke up one day going to work new ideas politically can open up some long shut factories

by: abdul
March 28, 2012 5:26 PM
What did the current president forgot to take at the presidential palace that he wanted to stay forever?????

by: Godwin
March 27, 2012 8:11 AM
Wade did it too late. The text should read that he was disgraced out of a sit-tight agenda. Why do Africans and Arabs love power so much and think only them have the prerogative of wisdom to rule? At age 85, is only to die in the govt house, what they refer to as active service, the way to be a national hero? To hell with all heads of states, presidents and leaders of African govts; they are either there with just the agenda to rule, or they become bigger than their countries; nothing more.

by: Xaaji Dhagax
March 26, 2012 9:45 AM
Hallelujah! Senegal is not Kenya, Zimbabwe or Ivory Coast. This is victory for democracy and the people of Africa. Thank you Mr. wade and thank you Mr. Salle. And congratulations for the people of Senegal.

by: General
March 26, 2012 9:25 AM
It is about time Africa leaders[incubent] concead election results.
Before,during and post election voilence are mostly caused by greedy Africa leaders who do not suceed in manupulating electoral process to have their way.Mr Wade thanks for saving many lives.

by: abdulai bah
March 26, 2012 9:24 AM
Senegal has always been an example to the rest of Africa. It will be wise to reduce AU membership to only countries that are truly respecting the democratic values. Then the others will copy best practice. Wow! Senegal

by: Nade
March 26, 2012 8:50 AM
Bravo to the Senegalese for this wise decision made in favor of their country. President elect Sall, please do not arrest former President Wade after he shall have left office. This is one reason many African Presidents do not want to leave power. Once more congrats to the people of Senegal

by: Jenny Webster
March 26, 2012 8:18 AM
Thank you Abdoulaye Wade. You have done many good things for your country and we are proud of you for stepping aside peacefully.

by: DT
March 26, 2012 7:56 AM
I've always wanted to travel to Senegal. This makes me more determined to visit.

by: USA
March 26, 2012 7:36 AM
senegalese people once again showed Africa, the world that they are a mature , peaceful people
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