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Early Presidential Election Results in Senegal Give Wade Wide Lead

Early results in Senegal are giving octogenarian, incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade a wide lead in Sunday's election, giving him a probable first round victory. Minor challengers are conceding defeat, but main challengers are surprised there may be no second round. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Dakar.

Results from throughout the country keep on pouring out of local radio stations, indicating Mr. Wade got more votes than all his 14 challengers combined.

Provisional results from nearly 20 counties, out of 35 in the country, show Mr. Wade is getting more than the 50 percent of the vote he needs for a first round win.

One Senegal newspaper said just a few areas had escaped what it called Mr. Wade's electoral "bulimia."

This includes Thies, a main coastal city and stronghold of former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck. Socialist Party candidate Ousmane Tanor Dieng also did well in several areas, but none of the other minor candidates won many votes.

A spokesman for Dieng, Mamadou Barry, says he believes these results point to wrongdoing on election day. He says there was multiple voting by Wade supporters and that polling stations in Mr. Wade's strongholds stayed open late.

"This is the way there was massive fraud," he said.

Barry also says voters in opposition strongholds were not able to get their voting cards before the election. He accuses authorities of siding with Mr. Wade.

"In fact, what they did was selective segmentation. They know exactly the parts of the country where they do not have favorable votes so they did not have the cards available for those people," Barry said. "Now in those parts, that they did believe favorable to their candidate, they had all the cards available. So we believe that this election that we just had was an election at minima. So that means that the majority of people, the Senegalese people, did not express their vote. This is why it is really a fraud."

Authorities said voter turnout was about 75 percent, much higher than for the previous election, and that 95 percent of registered voters had gone to pick up their voting cards.

Local and regional observers said the vote was free and fair, and that the turnout was impressive.

The education minister, Moustapha Sourang, says he hopes losers will accept the outcome, and be constructive, rather than divisive.

"I hope all the candidates will accept the people's decision. We are in a democracy," he said. "Senegal is an old democracy but what is important is that the candidates accept the verdict, the result of the voting, that is the main problem and the main goal of our democracy."

One candidate who is also a minister in Mr. Wade's government, Landing Savane, has already congratulated the incumbent.

The long-time opposition leader won elections in 2000, ending four decades of post-independence Socialist Party rule, and campaigned on promises of more economic reform and improvements to infrastructure.