Voters head to polls in Senegal parliamentary elections
Senegal lined up to vote in the parliamentary elections on Sunday, with hopes to bring in a majority for President Macky Sall’s government. Voters were slow to hit the polls, however, leading observers to question whether the election would be marked by low turnout.
At one voting station in Pikine, outside the capital Dakar, less than ten people out of the 166 registered had shown up by midday to vote.
Ousmane Sy, a teacher, told the AFP news agency: “It’s a waste to organise these elections when so few people show up.” But, he added, “It isn't surprising. There are no illusions about the lawmakers. They don't play their role and politicians generally only spread lies."
Parties and coalitions have submitted 24 lists for the election, to renew the 150 seats of the assembly for the next five years. There are more than 7,000 candidates in the running.
Thanks to a 2010 law requiring gender balance, Sunday’s poll is set to put more women into Senegal’s parliament than in previous years.
The move has been praised by women’s organisations, but bashed by some in the Muslim-majority nation as unfair or undemocratic. Of the outgoing lawmakers, just 33 are women.
President Sall hopes for a majority in the assembly, where former president Abdoulaye Wade’s party dominates the house. In 2007, the then-opposition party boycotted the parliamentary elections.
In March, Wade lost the presidential election in the second round to Sall, after leading the country for 12 years.
Wade’s controversial insistence on running for a third term, deemed illegal by many, sparked deadly riots during the election season.
But Sall won big in the end, and now needs a majority in the parliament to carry out his programmes.
Last month, he said, “A president without a majority cannot govern and we would find ourselves at an impasse."