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Senegal chooses parliament in test for presidential election

#Senegal #chooses #parliament #test #presidential #election

Senegalese voters head to the polls on Sunday for a general election that the opposition hopes will force a coalition with President Macky Sall and dampen any ambitions he may harbor for a third term.

Sall, 60, who was elected to a seven-year term in 2012 and re-elected to a five-year term in 2019, has been accused of wanting to break the two-term limit and run again in 2024.

He has remained vague on the issue, but any defeat by his supporters in Sunday’s vote could derail such plans.

Polling stations are scheduled to open at 0800 GMT and close at 1800 GMT.

The single-round election will decide the 165 seats in the unicameral parliament – currently controlled by the president’s supporters – for the next five years.

Legislators are elected under a system that combines proportional representation with national lists for 53 legislators and majority elections in the country’s departments for 97 others.

The diaspora elects the remaining 15 MPs.

Eight coalitions are in the running this year, including Yewwi Askan Wi (meaning “Liberate the People” in Wolof), the main opposition coalition.

Its most prominent member, Ousmane Sonko, came third in the 2019 presidential election.

But he and other members of the coalition were barred from running in Sunday’s elections on technical grounds.

In the run-up to the election, Yewwi Askan Wi has joined forces with Wallu Senegal (which means “Save Senegal” in Wolof), led by former President Abdoulaye Wade.

The two groups have agreed to work together to achieve a parliamentary majority and “enforce state coexistence”.

They also want to force Sall to give up all hope of running for office in 2024.

In local elections in March, opposition won in major cities including the capital Dakar, Ziguinchor in the south and Thies in the west.

Sonko and other members of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition were banned from voting in Sunday’s elections after authorities scrapped the national list of candidates for technical reasons in early June.

One of the names had accidentally been entered as both the first candidate and the alternate candidate, rendering the entire list invalid.

This sparked violent demonstrations that left at least three people dead.

On June 29, the opposition finally agreed to take part in the elections, easing tensions.

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