Senegalese call for peace during vote after chaotic politics

It was voting day at last. Senegalese endured months of chaotic politics marred by violence, deaths and massive arrests. On Sunday thousands showed up to cast their ballots.

Some voters called for calm and peace in this last hurdle to elect the fifth president who would replace the outgoing Macky Sall.

Senegalese on Sunday were casting their ballots in Ndiaganiao, the small town of opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, one of the main contenders in the presidential election.

They were voting in a tightly contested presidential race marred by months of unrest that threatened democracy in one of West Africa’s most stable nations.

The election was taking place after much uncertainty following President Macky Sall’s unsuccessful effort to delay the 25th February vote until the end of the year and then announcing a surprise amnesty for political prisoners.

Ndiaganiao residents were only hoping for peace in their nation.

“I want peace for everyone, I want everyone to make peace so that we can vote in peace, this country is all our country and victory is Senegal’s victory. I want there to be no problems, and I want the election to go smoothly,” local voter Abdoulaye Diouf said.

Two leading opposition figures were released from prison last week to jubilant celebrations.

Sunday’s election is Senegal’s fourth democratic transfer of power since it gained independence from France in 1960.

It is also the first vote without an incumbent on the ballot since term limits were introduced and there is no clear frontrunner among the 19 candidates, including one woman.

At the forefront of concerns for many Senegalese voters is the economy, which has been squeezed by high food and energy prices partly driven by the war in Ukraine.

Unemployment among the nation’s youth is widespread, driving thousands to risk their lives on dangerous journeys in search of jobs in the West.


Africanews/Hauwa M.

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