Vote counting has begun in Senegal after a peaceful day of voting in Sunday’s presidential election.
Polls closed at 6 p.m. local time and preliminary results are expected as soon as Monday or Tuesday, according to CENA.
After three weeks of campaigning, long lines of voters formed early Sunday to either support incumbent Macky Sall’s bid for re-election or replace him with one of his four challengers – Idrissa Seck, Ousmane Sonko, Madické Niang or Issa Sall.
The election process was smooth and there were no major disruptions in the election process, Doudou Ndir, president of Senegal’s electoral commission (CENA) told a press conference.
“Our observations show everything is proceeding in good conditions, peacefully, calmly,” Ndir said.
President Sall, 56, cast his ballot in his hometown of Fatick early Sunday. “I hope that at the end of this day, the Senegalese people will be the sole winner,” he said after voting.
“What we all have in common is our country, and we want a candidate who will work for it, for our Senegal,” Mbéne, an 18-year-old student who voted for the first time Sunday, told VOA Afrique after casting her ballot for Sall.
Though some will renew their support for Sall, some young voters are pledging their support to the youngest of the candidates, Ousmane Sanko, 44, who is promising drastic changes from the current system.
“The system has been in place for 60 years with the same men, the same heads, and we need to break from this,” Pape Amadou Diop, a student in Dakar, said after voting for Sonko, whom he calls the “perfect representation of hope in Senegal.”
Approximately 15,000 voting stations were expected to be open Sunday. CENA chief Ndir said that by noon, about 30 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots.
A candidate must win more than 50 percent of Sunday’s vote to be declared Senegal’s president. If no one wins an outright majority, then the top two contenders will face off in a run-off vote in March.