Sall election win ‘example for Africa’

The African Union said Wade’s concession showed “maturity” in the country’s democracy while the European Union called Senegal a “great example”.
Sall addressed thousands of cheering supporters in the capital, Dakar.

He promised to be a president for all Senegalese people.

The president-elect (50) said the poll marks a “new era” for the country.

His rival’s bid for a third term in office, after 12 years in power, sparked violent protests which left six people dead. Official results from Sunday’s election are expected within two days.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it was “a great victory for democracy in Senegal and in Africa.
“Senegal is a great example for Africa,” he added.

AU Commission chairman Jean Ping said the peaceful conduct of the presidential elections “proved that Africa, despite its challenges, continues to register significant progress towards democracy and transparent elections”.

Earlier, President Nicolas Sarkozy of Senegal’s former colonial ruler, France, said the peaceful election was “good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular”.

“Senegal is a major African country and a model of democracy,” he said.

The election comes just days after a military coup in neighbouring Mali.

Senegal remains the only country in West Africa to have never undergone a coup.

Wade “phoned his rival Macky Sall at 21:30 GMT [on Sunday] to congratulate him after the first results showed him to be the winner of a presidential run-off,” the Senegalese Press Agency said.

Even before Wade’s concession, thousands of Sall supporters began celebrating on the streets of Dakar.
They chanted “Macky president!” and “We have won!”

Wade brought in a two-term limit for presidential office, but argued that the limit should not apply to his first term which came in before the constitution was changed.

His argument was upheld by the constitutional court in January, prompting widespread protests in which six people died. In February’s first round, Wade fell short of a majority, polling only 34,8%. Sall came second with 26,6%. But most of the other 12 candidates backed Sall in the second round.

Sall owes his political career to Wade, and had held several ministry portfolios before becoming prime minister.

But the two men fell out over the handling of public spending by Karim Wade, the president’s unpopular son, whom many believe has been trying to succeed his father.

Sall has promised that, if elected, he will shorten the presidential term to five years from the current seven, and enforce the two-term limit. He has also promised to bring in measures to reduce the price of basic foodstuffs.

Senegal’s president-elect now faces a massive weight of expectation. High fuel and food prices, youth unemployment, corruption, the erosion of accountability in state institutions ––the in-tray that confronts Sall already overflows.

There won’t be any political honeymoon, warned a leading Dakar commentator on the eve of polling. Yet Sall will enter office with one huge asset: The surge of national pride among Senegalese at the decisive, peaceful and transparent manner in which they have used their democratic system to remove a once admired but now aging president who had overstayed his welcome.

Senegal’s new president will need to draw on the strength of that public endorsement as he establishes the political base for his new administration. Legislative elections will be held within weeks, renewing the membership of a national assembly currently dominated by Wade’s Parti Démocratique Sénégalais (PDS). Tough bargaining lies ahead to stitch together a solid parliamentary base for Sall’s new government.

Sall has stressed the importance of restoring basic governance standards and the principles of accountability and a balance of power between the key institutions –– the values of La République –– after the highly personalised rule of the latter Wade years. This is a big issue but it may in fact be the simplest to address.

Equally, there is no serious obstacle to a shift away from Wade’s focus on prestige infrastructure projects ––though Sall says he will complete those already underway –– in favour of basic grassroots development. However, if Sall is to retain public trust and credibility, he has to deliver on the cost of living and on jobs.

These problems are particularly intense in the capital and its sprawling suburbs, the cauldron of Senegalese politics.

The task is not quite impossible, and the new leader enters office on a huge wave of goodwill. But the new administration will face the expectations of a public who had come, in the words of a leading Dakar journalist, to feel they were almost being “strangled” by the Wade regime. –– BBC/World News.

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