Senegal opposition groups allege fraud in legislative elections

A Senegalese opposition leader on Wednesday called on supporters to be ready to defend their votes by any means, alleging the ruling party of President Macky Sall wanted to steal a legislative election that the opposition claims to have won.

Official results of Sunday’s vote are expected on Thursday, but both Sall’s ruling party, Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY), and the opposition have claimed victory, citing partial results.

“Macky Sall wants to confiscate our victory but we will not accept it,” said opposition leader Ousmane Sonko at a media conference of the coalition Yewwi Askane Wi (YAW).

“I am asking the Senegalese people to defend their votes by all means.”

In response, Cabinet minister and ruling party member Abdoulaye Seydou Sow said “these threats are unacceptable.”

Tensions have run high in the politically stable West African country of 17.5 million since violent protests broke out last year, after Sonko, who came third in the last 2019 presidential election, was arrested on rape charges. Sonko denies the allegations.

Acrimony has also been fuelled in part by Sall’s refusal to rule out breaching term limits by running for a third term.

On Monday, another opposition coalition known as Wallu Senegal said it and allied YAW had defeated the ruling party in most departments. The ruling coalition said it had won 30 out of Senegal’s 46 administrative departments.

At Wednesday’s media conference, YAW representative Dethie Fall said YAW would not accept Thursday’s results, alleging voting irregularities took place at many polling stations in northern regions.

YAW plans to ask the appeals court on Thursday to open ballot boxes, so YAW can show evidence to back up its allegations, said Fall.

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