Senegal counts legislative votes with eyes on 2024 presidential race

Senegal counts legislative votes with eyes on 2024 presidential race
# 31 July 2022 22:55 (UTC +04:00)

Senegal was counting votes on Sunday from a a legislative election that saw President Macky Sall's ruling party face an opposition energised by food price hikes and fears Sall could run for a controversial third term in 2024, APA reports citing Reuters.

Around seven million voters were eligible, but turnout appeared to be low at only 22% around midday.

Results are expected on Monday.

The political backdrop in the country of 17.5 million, considered among West Africa's most stable democracies, has become increasingly acrimonious, fuelled in part by Sall's refusal to rule out breaching term limits.

Violent protests erupted last year after Sall's main opponent, Ousmane Sonko, was arrested on rape charges. Sonko, who came third in the last presidential election in 2019, denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

Violent protests broke out again last month after the main opposition coalition's primary list of parliamentary candidates, which included Sonko, was disqualified on technical grounds. As a result, the coalition's backup list - consisting mostly of relative unknowns - will be on the ballot.

The coalition, which formed an alliance with another led by 96-year-old former President Abdoulaye Wade, is hoping to build on gains the opposition made during the January municipal election when they won control of Senegal's major cities.

Turnout, which was 53% in 2017, is crucial if the opposition hopes to win enough seats to challenge Sall's ambitions.

"Senegalese do not vote much in local and legislative elections, they tend to think that everything is decided in the presidential election," Sonko said after voting.