Senegal's ruling Socialists claim edge in polls

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Wed Mar 1 06:21:07 PST 2000

1 March 2000

Senegal's ruling Socialists claim edge in polls DAKAR: A ruling Socialist Party source said on Tuesday that President Abdou Diouf had won 43 percent of the vote in Sunday's presidential election in Senegal, but the main opposition party said the claim was unrealistic. The PS source said veteran opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade had won 30 percent and would therefore go forward to a second-round run-off against Diouf. Provisional official figures are not expected until Wednesday and Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) rejected the percentages given out by the Socialists. ``I don't believe that's possible,'' Wade's campaign manager, Mbaye Ndiaye, told Reuters, referring to the 43 percent attributed to Diouf. ``But if we go to a second round, Abdou Diouf will be beaten,'' he added. Wade told a news conference Monday that he had won the most votes. Diouf had won only one-third of the votes cast, and the seven challengers had amassed two-thirds, he said. His party declined to give percentages. The PS source said Moustapha Niasse, a Socialist Party defector, was in third place with 16 percent. Another former Socialist minister, Djibo Ka, was said to have won seven percent. A run-off is required since no candidate has won more than 50 percent -- the first time this has happened in Senegal in the 40 years of Socialist Party rule since independence from France in 1960. Niasse has already said he would call for a vote for Diouf's opponent in any second round in which he was not himself a candidate. Ka, the other ex-socialist, has kept quiet about his intentions. The Socialists have said they would talk to all the other candidates about forming alliances before the second round vote. The campaign focused largely on institutional matters, the opposition saying too much power was concentrated in Diouf's hands. Diouf promised to call on independent experts to draw up a new constitution and said this would be put to a referendum. Senegal is one of the most stable countries in Africa. It has never had a ilitary coup and has held multi-partyelections since the mid-1970s, well before most African states. But those elections have always resulted in Socialist Party victories and the opposition has alleged fraud in the past. The three-week electoral campaign was marked by violent incidents, especially in the big towns where Wade is strongest. Polling day passed off calmly in most places and the capital, Dakar, has been calm since then, the Socialists'acceptance of the need for a second round placating those opposition supporters who believed the election would be rigged. (Reuters) For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
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