Senegal’s election is taking place amid violent protests These elections are taking place in Senegal amidst deadly demonstrations.

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After a period of turmoil, conflict, and doubt, Senegal is preparing for elections on Sunday, sparking concerns that the country’s long-established democracy could be in serious jeopardy.

Experts claim that the upcoming presidential race in Senegal is the most unpredictable since the country gained independence from France over 60 years ago.

Voting day comes only seven weeks after the president, Macky Sall, abruptly cancelled the election, compromising Senegal’s reputation as one of Africa’s model democracies.

After facing protests resulting in four fatalities and numerous imprisonments, Sall was compelled to reverse course on what opponents see as an effort to maintain control.

According to experts, the competition is expected to primarily involve Amadou Ba, the chosen successor of Sall, and Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a prominent opposition nominee who was recently freed from jail.

According to Olayinka Ajala, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Leeds Beckett University, Ba is likely to come out on top due to his control of the state apparatus.

Ajala remarked, “However, it is difficult to determine at this point.”

Demonstrators celebrate the release from prison of the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye in DakarView image in fullscreen

According to Pat Thaker, the editorial director at Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Faye is the most likely to win because he has been chosen by the popular Ousmane Sonko, who was recently released from prison but unable to run in the election due to being disqualified.

Sonko and his brand of anti-establishment, anti-corruption politics have cultivated a sizeable following in Senegal, one of the few African countries not to have suffered a coup since securing independence in 1960.

As the voting deadline draws closer, Ba has begun to aggressively rally his supporters and declared that the “bandits” will not emerge victorious.

Some individuals predict that the upcoming election will bring an end to the recent turmoil in Senegal, but there are experts who caution against potential renewed conflicts on Sunday, especially if Ba emerges as the winner.

Both candidates are expected to have a close race and it is predicted that there will be a runoff to determine the winner.

According to Sidy Diop, the deputy editor of Senegal’s daily newspaper Le Soleil, the current presidential election is considered to be the “most inclusive” out of the 12 that have been held since the country gained independence from France.

The person who emerges victorious will have the responsibility of guiding Senegal through its recent challenges and overseeing the handling of income from newly discovered oil and gas reserves.

The discovery of over a billion barrels of oil and 900 billion cubic meters of gas has raised expectations of potential wealth, a promising possibility in a nation where the UN World Food Programme reports that 39% of the population lives in poverty.

The IMF has raised expectations by forecasting an economic growth of 8.8% this year due to the anticipated commencement of oil and gas production, which is more than twice the growth seen in the previous year.

The significant number of young people in Senegal will be influential in determining the successor to Sall. Unicef reports that the average age in Senegal is 22 years, a demographic that strongly supports Faye and Sonko. Sonko has gained a devoted following among the youth due to his criticisms of the elite and France, the country’s former colonial power.

Approximately 33% of the youth population is unemployed in this country, and a significant number are aiming to travel to Europe or America in hopes of enhancing their opportunities.

On Sunday, seven million Senegalese citizens will cast their votes, choosing from a total of 19 candidates, 18 men and one woman.

Despite having slim odds of winning, the sole female candidate for president, Anta Babacar Ngom, is being praised by activists for promoting efforts towards gender equality in the country.


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