Senegal’s Sall Wins Outright Majority in Presidential Election

(Bloomberg) -- Senegalese President Macky Sall won a decisive majority in elections after overseeing years of high economic growth and the construction of modern infrastructure, extending his term of office by five years.

Sall, a 57-year-old former geological engineer, won 58 percent of the votes, well above the 50 percent needed to avoid a second round, according to results announced by the National Vote Counting Commission on Thursday.

The outcome gives Sall a strong mandate to continue with the business-friendly policies that have made Senegal one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Since assuming office in 2012, Sall has used the slogan “Emerging Senegal” to define his policy of attracting foreign investors and reducing the country’s dependence on fishing, agriculture and tourism. Changes to the constitution in 2016 reduced presidential terms to five years from seven.

Senegal’s Sall Wins Outright Majority in Presidential Election

His two main opponents, ex-Prime Minister Idrissa Seck and Ousmane Sonko, a former tax inspector, won 20.5 percent and 16 percent of votes respectively, the commission said. The results will have to be validated by the Constitutional Council.

The four opposition candidates who faced Sall said they “strongly rejected” the results but won’t challenge them before the council, according to a joint statement. Senegal is the only West African nation that’s never had a coup and elections usually experience little to no violence.

Cross-Border Traffic

While Sall received praise for boosting growth to an average of almost 6 percent for the past five years, civil-society groups accuse him of manipulating the courts to sideline opposition politicians. Khalifa Sall, a former mayor of Dakar, and Karim Wade, the son of ex-President Abdoulaye Wade, were convicted of corruption in separate trials and barred from the Feb. 24 election. Sall has rejected the allegations.

The government is building a new city near the town of Diamniadio that’s easing congestion in Dakar, home to almost a quarter of the country’s 15 million people. It has also opened a new international airport and built a bridge for cross-border traffic across the Gambia river, signaling improved ties with its much smaller neighbor since the ousting of Gambian strongman Yahya Jammeh two years ago.

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