Senegal Prepares for wide open Presidential Election on Sunday

Senegal election
Senegal electionvanguardngr

On Sunday, seven million Senegalese are set to head to the polls to vote in a wide open presidential election after weeks of chaos and uncertainty.

Whoever emerges victorious will be responsible for guiding the historically stable West African nation out of years of chaos, and overseeing income from newly found oil and gas reserves.

Until Friday, the 18 men and one woman have to complete a raucous two-week campaign period, which was dramatically shortened due to a last-minute change in the election date.

The election race was further energized by a hastily approved amnesty law, resulting in the recent release from prison of Bassirou Diomaye Faye and the charismatic Ousmane Sonko, prominent figures of the anti-establishment opposition.

Although Faye holds the position of Sonko’s deputy, she is on the ballot because Sonko is ineligible to run, and voters view them as a combined entity.

According to 38-year-old teacher Gnima Mane in the southern city of Ziguinchor, they plan to share resources fairly and leave what belongs to Senegal to Senegal, as a sign of patriotism.

With the candidate selected by outgoing President Macky Sall's governing coalition up against 18 rivals, the incumbent will not feature on the ballot for the first time in Senegal.

Many residents in the central town of Diourbel believe in Sall’s candidate, Amadou Ba.

Senegal has long been viewed as a symbol of democracy and stability in coup-plagued West Africa, However, Sall's sudden choice in February to postpone the presidential election scheduled for later that month led to violence resulting in four deaths.

Having earned acclaim overseas for renouncing a potential third term bid in 2023, Sall explained that he canceled the vote out of concerns for its success.

The country’s top constitutional body intervened after weeks of political crisis and made him reset the date to March 24.

Ba and Faye, who has positioned himself as the “candidate for system change” and “left-wing pan-Africanism”, both argue that they can emerge victorious in the first round.

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