Observers question lack of results in Senegal
Dakar - European Union observers on Tuesday questioned why Senegal's government is not publishing real-time results from a contentious presidential election, saying that in the internet age there is no reason for the delay.
Sunday's election pitted the country's 85-year-old president, who has refused calls to step down and is seeking a third term, against a field of 13 opposition candidates. Results from individual polling stations are being relayed on private radio stations and websites, but the government won't issue an official tally issued until Friday.
Opposition leaders criticised Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who held a press conference on Monday to announce that he is ahead with 32.17% of votes tallied so far.
Opposition leaders said it is not the place of the president, but rather of the election commission, to announce results.
"At this very hour, the provisional results are not yet known," said the head of the delegation of European parliamentarians, Cristian Dan Preda. "It's completely regrettable that this lack of information is fuelling tension and suspicion."
The administration would gain a lot of transparency if it started publishing in real time the information that it has at its disposal. In the internet era it's inconceivable that the Senegalese will need to wait until Friday to know the official results."
Based on the results issued by private newspapers and by the president, it appears that none of the candidates got the majority needed to avoid a run-off. Many believe that for Wade to maintain power, he needed to win on the first round when the opposition was split.
His chances of winning are much slimmer in a run-off when he will be facing a united opposition.
Insisted on third term
Wade refused calls from both France and the United States to retire, insisting on running for a third term in contradiction of the term limits he himself introduced into the constitution but says do not apply retroactively to him. Weeks of protest preceded the vote, endangering the reputation of a nation considered a model of tolerance.
Thijs Berman, the head of the 90-member observation mission, said that although the campaign leading to the election was marred by violence, the actual vote proceeded peacefully.
Few irregularities were noted, among them the late opening of some polling stations and the fact that not all election monitors checked to make sure that voters dipped their fingers in indelible ink.
Wade appeared disconnected from the growing criticism, telling reporters that he was going to win with a crushing majority and the demonstrations were "nothing more than a light breeze".
El Hadji Ibrahima Mbow, a spokesperson for the coalition supporting the leading opposition candidate, used Wade's words against him during a TV round-table discussion Monday night.
"Seventy percent of Senegalese rejected him," said Mbow. "He said it was a little breeze? This breeze is now threatening to blow over his throne," he said. "He needs to go. He refused to leave via the big door. Now we'll watch him crawl out the window."