Vote Counting Underway in Senegal Presidential Election

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Vote counting is underway as Senegalese cast their ballots Sunday for presidential candidates after months of political tension and uncertainty.

The election comes after outgoing President Macky Sall’s earlier attempt to delay the vote raised fears he may try to hold on to power.

By Sunday evening, most polling stations around Senegal had closed and the much-anticipated election seemed to have gone smoothly, according to reports.

Thousands of Senegalese showed up all over the country and waited patiently to cast their votes. Abdoulaye Sylla, president of the National Electoral Commission, said turnout was high.

Observers from many organizations were present, including from the European Union, which sent 100 observers throughout the country.

“This morning our observers were present in 40 polling stations,” said Malin Bjork, who heads the EU group that arrived in January. “Our summary as of now is that the poll took place in a calm environment and was well-organized.

It’s not clear yet how soon official results will be available, but political analyst Babacar Ndiaye explained the next step.

“We can have a scenario where one candidate wins in the first round. The person needs 51%, but if that’s not reached, there will be a second round, which could take place in two to three weeks,” Ndiaye said.

Djibril Gningue, executive director of PACTE, a civil society group working for election transparency, said a second round of voting could raise new problems for the country.

“President Sall recently said that if a candidate wins, he’ll make sure a transition takes place. If not, he’s leaving on April 2,” Gningue said.

Gningue said in the event of a second round, results won’t be known by the time Sall has pledged to step aside.

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