Macky Sall's candidate concedes defeat in Senegal election

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
MAR 25, 2024 LISTEN

Senegal's governing coalition candidate Amadou Ba conceded defeat on Monday, against opposition rival Bassirou Diomaye Faye after Sunday's elections. This brings President Macky Sall's long leadership to a close after months of protests, a delayed election and a deep political crisis. 

"Considering the trends of the presidential election results and awaiting the official declaration, I congratulate the president Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye on his victory in the first round," Amadou Ba said in the statement.

The governing coalition had been insisting a run-off would still be needed until Monday morning, as an absolute majority is required for a first-round win.

Official results are expected in the coming days and outgoing President Macky Sall is stepping down on 2 April.

Sall congratulated Faye as his successor on Monday, hailing "a victory for Senegalese democracy".

Former Prime Minister Ba, who was representing outgoing leader Sall's camp, was one of the 17 candidates in the running.

Early predictions

From late Sunday evening, local media channels started announcing polling station tallies that put Faye comfortably ahead of Ba, as well as most newspapers' frontpages.

Opposition supporters celebrated in the streets of Ziguinchor, in Casamance, where Ousmane Sonko, Faye's mentor, has been mayor for years.

Many told RFI that they hoped the new president would bring change, a boost to the economy and especially jobs for the youth.

Faye and his coalition have promised voters a programme of left-wing pan-Africanism.

Faye's and Sonko's supporters also celebrated in the capital Dakar into the early hours of Monday, which is also Faye's birthday.

"I am happy to see there is a wind of change," one of Faye's supporters also told Reuters news agency, joining others to wave Senegalese flags, light flares and blast vuvuzelas.

"It is wonderful because democracy has won. Many thought it would not happen," he said.

A peaceful election

"The vote went very well. The polling stations were peaceful, orderly and quiet. Every voter who came was able to cast their ballot, and exercise their fundamental right to choose their leaders," Timbuktu Institute senior fellow Babacar Ndiaye told RFI English.

"That showed that, despite the tension in the pre-electoral period, they were eager to go and exercise that fundamental right."

The tension seen during the pre-electoral period, had actually started over three years ago in Senegal, when politicians from different sides were "engaged in violent struggles," he added, "and tactics either to eliminate one candidate from running or to take advantage of the situation." 

"Senegalese citizens demonstrated much maturity and a democratic culture of peace, of order, of respect, of rules."

Ndiaye hopes this victory will "lead to transparency, good governance and prosperity for the majority of people, which is the ultimate goal of democracy."

The new leader will have to steer Senegal out of three years of turbulence and a political crisis, and manage revenues from oil and gas reserves that are shortly to start production.

 (with newswires)