Wade rivals optimistic for unexpected second round

By IndepthAfrica
In Election
Feb 27th, 2012
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Incumbent Abdoulaye Wade and former prime minister Macky Sall are headed for an unexpected second round in presidential polls, a member of Sall’s campaign team said late Sunday. Wade is seeking a controversial third term.

AFP – Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade is in a tight race with former prime minister Macky Sall, and headed to a second round in presidential polls, a member of his rival’s campaign team said late Sunday.

“As I speak to you now, all indications are that we are neck-on-neck with President Abdoulaye Wade,” said the spokesman Jean-Paul Dias.

He said based on partial results, Wade was polling between 34 and 36 percent, while Sall stood between 32 and 34 percent.

“The second round could thus take place between Abdoulaye Wade and Macky Sall.”

Sall is taking part in elections for the first time. The mayor of the western city of Fatick fell out of favour with his former mentor Wade in 2008 after serving in several ministerial portfolios and as prime minister.

The country has been in suspense over who the main contender will be in a wide-open field of 13 opposition candidates, with Sall named among three other big guns as the best placed to take on the 85-year-old incumbent.

Wade is seeking a third term in office after circumventing a two-term limit he introduced into the constitution. He says changes extending term lengths from five to seven years made in 2008 allow him a fresh mandate.

The country’s highest court upheld his argument which sparked a month of riots in one of Africa’s most stable nations, leaving six dead.

The defiant leader, who dismissed the protests as “temper tantrums” has vowed to win in the first round.

Early results were still trickling in, but one of the first showed the incumbent had been beaten in his own polling station in Dakar where hundreds of voters booed him Sunday when he cast his ballot.

Wade’s presence at the polling station prompted a cacophony of boos and jeers from voters who had earlier waited quietly in the sun to vote.

Visibly angry, a tense Wade pushed one of bodyguards out of the way as he left.

Wade came second to another former prime minister Moustapha Niasse, with Sall placing third, in the small polling station.

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