SOURCE: allAfrica

Following two hurried weeks of campaigning, Senegal's delayed presidential election is set for this Sunday - with more than 7 million people registered to vote for a record 18 candidates. 

Voters will head out to more than 16,000 polling stations across the West African country and its diaspora. Ballots will be counted after voting ends at 6 pm.

Vote tallies will be sent to the Constitutional Council, and the National Election Commission will announce provisional results by the evening or early Monday morning.

Majority and opposition

Election coverage has highlighted polarisation between two main camps - the first led by the former prime minister Amadou Ba.

Born in Dakar in 1961, Ba studied in Paris and the US and returned to Senegal to work in higher administration. Named economy minister by President Macky Sall in 2013, the wealthy individual was prime minister until the campaign was launched earlier this month.

The second dominant camp is a coalition brought together by Ousmane Sonko - former mayor of Ziguinchor in Casamance - and his official candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

Sixteen other candidates have also been running.

Habib Sy and Cheikh Tidiane Dieye have been defending Bassirou's program, with the latter even abandoning the race on Wednesday to support Sy fully.

Among the other candidates, more than three were previously in charge of a government, many close to the former prime minister. Only one candidate is a woman.

Observers believe that Senegal is heading towards a second round, as it will be hard for any contenders to achieve 51 percent on 24 March.

Three former prime ministers

Veteran politician Idrissa Seck, 64, served as prime minister from 2002 to 2004 in the Senegalese Democratic Party under former President Abdoulaye Wade.

He was sacked over embezzlement allegations in 2005 and spent some months in jail before his case was dismissed.

2006 he founded his own party and challenged Wade in 2007, finishing second. He ran again in 2012 but did not make it to the second round.

He placed second in the 2019 presidential race with 21 percent of the vote, after which his Rewmi party joined the ruling United in Hope (BBY) coalition with Sall. He served as head of the Economic, Social, and Environmental Council from November 2020 until April 2023.

Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, 59, is a former close ally of Sall and was a top BBY member.

He left the coalition, resigned as minister, and launched his bid after Ba was selected as the BBY candidate.

 Ndiaye is the mayor of Linguere, a town in north Senegal. A civil engineer and former bank executive, he served as energy and interior minister before taking over the agriculture portfolio.

Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, 64, was Sall's third prime minister from 2014 to 2019. He was seen as one of the frontrunners in the race to succeed Sall within the BBY coalition.

An early supporter and ally of Sall before he became president, Dionne held several positions during Sall's two terms in office, including chief of staff at the president's office.

He announced his candidacy in September 2023 and launched his coalition days after Sall selected Ba as the candidate for the ruling coalition.

Former Dakar mayor

Sall, 68, served as mayor of Dakar from 2009 to 2018.

Unrelated to President Sall, he is, on the contrary, one of his chief political rivals.

Arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of stealing about $3 million in public funds, he was sentenced to five years in 2018, preventing him from contesting the February 2019 presidential election.

Sall pardoned him in September that year, opening the way for him to run again in an election.

According to analysts, he stands a high chance among voters who want to get rid of the current majority but have no faith in Sonko's opposition coalition.

One woman only

Entrepreneur and political newcomer Anta Babacar Ngom, 39, launched the Alternative for the Next Generation of Citizens political movement in August 2023.

Daughter of the founding president of Sedima, a leading poultry production group in the West and Central Africa region that operates Senegal's Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, Ngom was, until recently, executive director of the company.

At least one outsider

Papa Djibril Fall is also running in the presidential election for the first time as an independent candidate.

Originally from Thiadiaye, a journalist and communications consultant, he graduated from the leading journalism school of Dakar, the Center for the Study of Information Sciences and Techniques, in 2014.

He has worked as a former columnist on 2sTV and Radio TFM, then was elected member of The National Assembly during the parliamentary elections of July 2022 in Senegal.

Go to top