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Wade Concedes Defeat in Senegal Election

Fears that the outcome of the Senegal’s presidential runoff could lead to violent reactions have been doused as President Abdoulaye Wade has called rival Macky Sall to concede defeat in the Sunday’s runoff election.

Fears that the outcome of the Senegal’s presidential runoff could lead to violent reactions have been doused as President Abdoulaye Wade has called rival Macky Sall to concede defeat in the Sunday’s runoff election.

Sall hailed the outcome of the runoff as a “victory of the Senegalese people,” according to state television.
The outgoing president stood against Sall, his former prime minister, in the Sunday’s runoff after he failed to win a majority during last month’s election. The two survived in the roll of 14 candidates during the February 27 election, with Wade receiving 32% of the vote and Sall getting 25%. Sall’s victory was made possible by the overwhelming support he garnered from several of the unsuccessful candidates who vowed solidarity against Wade as he sought a third term.

Residents of Dakar poured onto the streets overnight, honking car horns, beating drums, singing and dancing in celebration after state television reported that Wade had telephoned Sall to concede the country’s most contentious election in recent history.
“It is the whole country that has just won, “Amadou Sall, a spokesman for Wade said. ”This is a big moment for democracy and President Abdoulaye Wade has respected the voice of the people.”
Wade, 85, has been in power since 2000. He began his career as president with an excellent democratic reputation but drew criticism for failing to improve the lives of citizens and for seeking to extend his rule with a third term, setting off street protests during which six people lost their lives.

Sall’s supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in Dakar on Sunday, cheering and dancing to music in the streets, saying they were proud of their country and happy President Abdoulaye Wade admitted defeat in the election.

The runoff witnessed early turnout of large crowds waiting to vote in the election. Observers admitted the election was well conducted.
An observer said the political tension witnessed in the first leg of the election became calmer in the runoff, adding that although the tensions are still present, there has not been an instance of violence and the election was peaceful.
Senegal is a small country on Africa’s west coast and has been renowned for democratic stability in a region with recurrent history of electoral chaos, civil wars and coups.

But deadly demonstrations broke out after the country’s highest court cleared Wade to seek a third term in January. Protesters demanded that Wade give up his bid for another unlawful third term.

Opponents argued that the judiciary was compromised and that the constitution limits presidents to only two terms. But Wade successfully argued that he is exempt because he took office in 2000, before the term limit was put in place.
Wade who was once was hailed as a visionary has got his popularity bruised by his inability to raise the standard of living of his people. Protesters calling for Wade’s ouster have clashed on the streets in recent months.

An elated Sall said: “We have shown to the world that our democracy is mature. I will be the president of all the Senegalese.”
Sall, 50, had campaigned for Sunday’s election promising to lower the cost of living for Senegalese, by, among other means, cutting taxes on rice. He criticized Wade for pursuing vanity projects  including an African Renaissance Monument standing slightly taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty  instead of helping poor Senegalese.

Senegal is the only nation in mainland West Africa that has not experienced a coup or civil war since independence.

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