Sall is Senegal's new president as Wade admits defeat
Thousands of people took to the streets of the Senegalese capital Dakar Sunday night to celebrate the victory of opposition candidate Macky Sall who defeated President Abdoulaye Wade in his controversial bid for a third term in office.
Wade had remained defiant in the run-up to the election, dismissing as "absurd" the idea that he might lose raising fears the poll's outcome would be disputed and the 85-year-old would try to cling on to power after 12 years as president. But following the result, Wade called Sall to offer his congratulations and concede defeat.
"The real winner remains the Senegalese people," former prime minister Sall said after his victory became clear in Sunday's run-off presidential vote in the country hailed as a beacon of democracy in west Africa.
"I will be the president of all Senegalese," vowed 50-year-old Sall.
There were also celebrations in Dakar's Independence Square, where scores of youths on motorbikes yelled and hooted, performing daredevil stunts in the square and outside the presidential palace.
In the run-up to the first-round 26 February vote, the square was the scene of near daily clashes with protesters and riot police who fired tear gas and rubber bullets in a bid to break up the protests.
The unrest claimed six lives in Senegal, hailed as one of west Africa's success stories and the only country in the region never to have suffered a military coup.
Initial results published by state media showed Sall beating Wade by a ratio of at least 2:1 in the overwhelming majority of polling stations.
The outgoing president was even roundly beaten in his home constituency.
It was a humiliating blow to a leader who was hugely popular when first elected in 2000 after 25 years as opposition leader.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the outcome was "very good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular," describing the former French colony as a "model of democracy".
Sall was once tipped to succeed the veteran leader as his protoge following a meteoric rise which at one point had him serving as Wade's prime minister.
But he fell from grace and left the ruling party to strike out on his own.