Senegal president agrees to runoff

2012-02-28 08:32
Dakar - After days of predicting that he would win a third term with a crushing majority, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on Monday acknowledged that he may not have won enough votes to avoid a runoff.

The normally loquacious leader didn't take questions and appeared subdued as he met reporters for the first time since Sunday's contentious election, which was preceded by weeks of protests calling for the leader's departure.

Reading from a prepared statement, Wade said that with more than half of the vote counted, he was leading 13 other candidates with 32.17%. He needs more than 50% to avoid a runoff.

Experts say that for the 85-year-old to remain in power he needed to win on the first round when the opposition was split between multiple candidates. In a runoff, his chances of winning are much slimmer because the opposition will be united behind a single contender.

"To all of my supporters, my allies, my sympathisers, I ask that you remain mobilised because at this very hour, the trend from votes counted in 282 out of 551 districts - or half the vote - give me the lead with 32.17% to 25.24% for my nearest opponent," Wade said. "So everything is still possible - victory, or a runoff."


This nation of over 12 million on Africa's western coast is considered one of the oldest and most robust democracies on the continent, but for weeks, daily life has been upended by protests calling for Wade to resign.

Analysts have warned of further unrest if Wade were to win the election, and the spectre of more violence has eroded the image of a nation that has been held up as a model of stability.

As votes were being tallied on Monday, leading opposition candidate Macky Sall declared that a runoff was "inevitable". Sall told the country's private radios that he had won both the capital and several major towns in the interior, though he said neither he nor the president had won the majority needed to avoid a second ballot.

Wade had angered the opposition in the days leading up to the vote by saying he would win on the first round with "a crushing majority". He was loudly booed when he came to his home precinct to vote on Sunday, and his bodyguards quickly led him inside the polling booth after a mob surrounded him.

While he was inside voting, they began to chant the chorus of a song composed by a group of anti-Wade rappers: "Old man, get lost".

It's a sad chapter in the career of a man whose election 12 years ago was met with euphoria. A former opposition leader, Wade spent 25 years from 1974 to 2000 trying to topple the socialist party that ruled Senegal for 40 years after the country's independence from France in 1960.

His victory in 2000 was held up as an example of Senegal's democratic maturity, because the former president gracefully accepted his loss.


Famously, ex-President Abdou Diouf telephoned Wade to concede defeat, an American-style gesture that was unheard of in Africa at the time. Many wonder if Wade will step down as gracefully as his predecessor should he lose the runoff in March.

The protests that have rocked the country began in 2011 when Wade attempted to rush a law through parliament that would have reduced the percentage a candidate needed to win on the first round from 50% to 25%. He was forced to scrap the proposal after riots immobilised the capital.

Wade has insisted on running for a third term, even though he revised the constitution after he came to office to impose a two-term maximum.

In the two weeks preceding the vote, there were protests nearly every day. Wade has refused international calls to step down, including from the US which called his candidacy "regrettable" and a threat to the country's democracy.

Sunday's vote proceeded peacefully. Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who was in Dakar to observe the election, said: "Despite the tension in recent weeks, I witnessed firsthand the Senegalese people stepping out peacefully into the streets to make their voices heard where it truly counted - at the ballot box."

The recent unrest has been uncharacteristic for Senegal, which is the country that many international businesses chose to relocate to after the start of the civil war in Ivory Coast a decade ago.

Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, was once the most urbane city in the region and if companies chose to move to the less-developed Senegal, it was largely due to the country's image of stability and its reputation as a vibrant democracy.

"On February 26 2012, you went to the ballot box in large numbers... with calmness, discipline, dignity and serenity," Wade said in his prepared statement on Monday.

"The February 26 vote confirms that our country remains solidly anchored in the small circle of modern democracies. Our country remains faithful to its reputation."
Read more on:    abdoulaye wade  |  senegal  |  west africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

24 hour sale – Up to 70% off

Its black Friday, save up to 70% on a wide range of awesome products at Offers valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.