'Tight race' in Senegal election
Dakar - Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade is in a tight race with his main rival Macky Sall, according to early unofficial tallies from the most contentious poll in the west African state's recent history, signalling a run-off between the former allies.
The election follows weeks of violent street protests against the 85-year-old Wade's bid for a third term in office despite a two-term limit, and warnings that Senegal's reputation as an established democracy hangs in the balance.
"Figures at our disposal indicate that a second round is inevitable," Sall told Reuters on Monday.
Partial unofficial results published by website SUNU2012, which has been aggregating figures from volunteers at individual polling stations, showed Wade with about 24%, ahead of Sall's 21%, with 10% of the ballots counted.
Moustapha Niasse, 72, another former ally of Wade's who is also in the race, said that given the results so far, Wade cannot win in the first round, adding that a coalition against Wade in the second round was a must.
"Whatever the personality of the candidate who will face him [Wade] in the second round ... in any case, stopping Wade is an imperative, it is a necessity, this is a must," Niasse said on RFI radio.
Prospects could change rapidly, however, as Wade claims strong support in rural areas of the country where figures may be slower to come in. He has said he is confident of a win in the election's first round of voting.
Amadou Sall, a spokesperson for Wade, told Reuters that there were not enough votes in yet to draw conclusions.
A candidate must score an outright majority to win in the first round, otherwise the top two candidates compete in a run-off. No official results have yet been released by Senegal's election commission.