DAKAR: Senegal voted in municipal and provincial elections on Sunday, seen as a key test for President Macky Sall as he tries to shore up support for his party two years after his own disputed victory.
Queues of voters formed outside polling stations in residential areas of Dakar shortly before voting began at 0800 GMT. Voting was delayed in some areas due to election officials and equipment not arriving in time, according to an AFP journalist on the ground.
More than 5.3 million people are eligible to vote for more than 2,700 councillors across the country, a record number of candidates, up from 1,600 in 2009. Those councillors from 602 districts will in turn elect mayors and heads of provinces. After casting his vote, President Sall complained that the high number of candidates hindered the voting process. Sall, who is not a candidate in these elections, said he wanted “a quiet vote” after a campaign marred by incidents of violence.
No major incidents had been reported by midday, but several local officials said participation was still low across the country. Voting is due to end at 1800 GMT. A bitterly disputed presidential election in March 2012 was marred by violence that left up to 15 people dead and at least 150 injured. Sall won that election with more than 65 percent of the vote against Abdoulaye Wade who had been in power for 12 years.
The local elections are a key test for Sall and his party which control only a few local communities. The presidential party, the Alliance for the Republic (APR), which was created in 2008, does not yet have a strong foundation in the country and is undermined by internal differences. The APR hopes the elections will allow it to strengthen its base despite poor economic results.
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