Senegal’s voters are set to elect a new parliament Sunday following campaigning wrought with tensions between the rival coalitions of President Macky Sall, his predecessor and Dakar’s detained mayor.
Polling takes place between 8.:00 am and 6:00 pm (0800 to 1800 GMT), with the first results due early Monday in an election seen as a crucial test of support ahead of a presidential election in 2019.
More than 6.2 million people in the west African nation are registered to vote.
Sall will seek to bolster his parliamentary majority as he eyes a second term, while his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade, 91, attempts to drum up support for his
own list of candidates and for his son, Karim, who is waiting in the wings with eyes on the top job.
“We aren’t talking any longer about July 30, but of 2019,” Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, who is running for a seat with Sall’s coalition, declared at a rally on Thursday.
Sall’s other main opponent, Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall (no relation), is in jail awaiting trial for what supporters say are politically motivated embezzlement charges.
The mayor had been seen as a key contender for 2019 and a potential threat to the president in parliament until he was charged in
March with allegedly misappropriating 1.83 billion CFA francs ($2.85 million, 2.7 million euros) in city funds.
There are a record 47 lists of candidates contesting the election, with 165 lawmakers due to take seats in parliament.
Fifteen seats are being set aside for Senegalese expatriates – the first time that the country’s diaspora, estimated at half a million, will have direct representation.
– By AFP