Senegal leader heading for poll victory

President Macky Sall greets the crowd as he speaks to the media after casting his voteImage copyright
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President Sall looks to have secured a majority for a second term, reports say

Senegalese President Macky Sall is headed towards a second term in office, his prime minister says.

Mohammed Dionne said preliminary results suggested Mr Sall had secured about 57% of the vote in Sunday’s elections, but an official result will take days.

Mr Sall faced four challengers in the vote, but was accused of preventing his main rivals from running.

Two well-known opposition figures were barred from taking part.

Khalifa Sall, the popular former mayor of Dakar, and Karim Wade, the son of the former president, were deemed ineligible to run last month because of corruption convictions.

As a result of the decision, neither the Socialist Party nor the Senegalese Democratic Party, which have dominated the country’s political landscape since independence, are fielding presidential candidates.

Only five candidates were deemed eligible for Sunday’s vote, compared to 12 in the last election. In 2018, a law was passed requiring candidates to have a certain number of signatures from voters to be able to run.

Mr Sall was first elected in 2012. On the campaign trail, he focused on his record with infrastructure projects.

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Media captionSenegal election 2019: What do youth want from next president?

He has portrayed himself as a moderniser who has helped to boost economic growth to more than 6% a year, one of the highest rates in Africa.

However, critics say he has done little to improve the lives of ordinary Senegalese.

With two democratic transitions of power and no coup since its independence in 1960, Senegal is considered one of the most stable countries in Africa.

More than 6.6 million people were registered to vote in Sunday’s election, including some residents living abroad.

Observers say the youth vote could have an important impact on the result, because the average age in the country is 19.

If no candidate wins a clear majority, the country will go to a second round of voting on 24 March.

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