Despite pre-election protests and violence, Senegal held peaceful elections on Sunday 26 February 2012. The results were originally scheduled to be announced on Tuesday 27 February but have already been delayed. To the frustration of many, the electoral commission has noted that official results will only be available on Friday 2 March.
Early unofficial results indicated that current President Abdoulaye Wade held 32 percent of the vote whilst former Prime Minister and opposition candidate, Macky Sall held 25 percent. The sun may be setting on Wade’s tenure as he was reportedly booed as he cast his vote in the capital, Dakar, and even lost his own constituency in the middle-class neighbourhood of Point E in the city.
Seeing as neither candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, Senegal will have to enter a second round of run-off elections that will pit Wade against Sall. This second round will take place on 18 March.
Wade will struggle in a second round, as those who voted for the other 12 candidates in the first round are likely to unite behind Sall. Traditionally, however, opposition parties have remained ractured in Senegal but for these elections Wade’s contentious bid for a third term has coalesced the opposition. Regime change therefore looks most likely this year.
Sall was previously a long-time member of Wade’s Senegalese Democratic Party (SDP) where he was the country’s Prime Minister between 2004 and 2007 as well as the President of the National Assembly between 2007 and 2008. Following a fallout in 2008 over the president’s son, Karim Wade, Sall formed his own party: the Alliance for the Republic.