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Opposition leader Sall won 65.8% in presidential run-off

Former prime minister and opposition leader Macky Sall (pictured) won Senegal's presidential run-off on Sunday with 65.8% of the vote to the 34.2% garnered by incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, provisional results showed Tuesday.


AFP - Senegal's president-elect Macky Sall prepared Tuesday to take power after a crushing poll victory over veteran leader Abdoulaye Wade, in a smooth handover hailed as a democratic example for Africa.

Wade bowed out after 12 years in power, conceding defeat just hours after polls closed on Sunday, however official results on Tuesday revealed his rival had trumped him with 65.8 percent of the votes.

Wade scored 34.2 percent, roughly the same score he obtained in a first round while Sall's ability to win the support of all opposition candidates saw him increase his earlier takings of 26.58 percent.

This gives him a lot to consider as he puts together his new government, as many of his backers are likely to expect returns on their support.

The 50-year-old former prime minister and trained geologist will assume office after his inauguration on April 3.

He will then preside over independence celebrations on April 4 in his first role as president.

"The president's men - Macky Sall's dream team" headlined L'Observateur newspaper, speculating on who would be part of the new regime.

Sall's political party is the Republican Alliance but he was elected as part of a broad coalition called Benno Bokk Yakkar (meaning United with the same Hope in the Wolof language).

Among the prominent figures who threw their weight behind Sall for the run-off were two former prime ministers who fell out in the first round and music legend Youssou Ndour, who had wanted to run but was barred by the country's highest court.

It was not clear when the 85-year-old Wade would vacate his offices and the presidential palace after 12 years in power.

"No definitive date has been set for the transfer of services (from Wade to Sall). We should know tonight," a source among Sall's entourage told AFP.

The state Senegalese Press Agency said Wade "has decided to leave the palace on Wednesday" but the presidency could not confirm this.

The west African nation received kudos from the continent and the world for a peaceful handover of power following tumultuous elections in which Wade had sought to rule into his 90s, seeking a third term which sparked deadly riots.

Meanwhile Wade decided not to attend a meeting of west African leaders in Abidjan to discuss the recent coup in Mali and sent his foreign minister, a source at the presidency said.

"(Ivorian) President Alassane Ouattara insisted, but a new president has been elected and we don't want to do anything to get in his way," the source said.

The outgoing leader on Tuesday made a farewell visit to the country's religious leaders.

Following its defeat at the polls the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) turned its focus to legislative elections on June 17. It currently holds a majority in the 140-seat parliament.

"We ask Macky Sall ... to do everything to ensure the electoral calendar is not modified," said party spokesman Babacar Gueye.

Several challenges await the new president who is facing heavy expectations from a population tired of unemployment, high food prices, power cuts and a long strike which has crippled the education sector.

In an interview with AFP this month, Sall, Senegal's first president to be born after the 1960 independence, said "several emergencies" loomed.

They included a "dramatic public finance situation" as well as a food crisis in the north where some 800,000 Senegalese are going hungry due to a drought gripping the Sahel region.

Sall said he also wanted to halve the size of the government -- slashing the cabinet by some 20 ministers -- and reduce Senegal's diplomatic representation abroad.

He would use the savings to lower the prices of basic goods, he said.

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