Senegal’s ruling coalition’s landslide win of the parliamentary elections was widely expected. The governing Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) party took all but three of the country’s 45 electoral departments, according to Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, speaking ahead of the official release of the result this week.
The elections, however, did not go without hiccups. Officials complained that hundreds of voters were prevented from casting their ballots due to delays in issuing identity cards. Many voters were left off voting lists at polling stations or told they did not have the right documents to vote.
“There were a lot of anomalies when you listen to the radio,” said Abdoulaye Senghor, a resident in the capital Dakar.” There were so many people who wanted to vote, but were unable to vote.” According to Minister for Interior Affairs, Abdoulaye Daouda Diall, only 70 percent of the electorate received their voting cards.
The two main opposition parties said the problems with the ballot were engineered to deny opposition victory. They accused the government of delivering the new biometric cards in a selective way to help President Macky Sall’s BBY coalition.
In a bid to solve the problem of the delays in issuing the voters’ identity cards, the Senegalese authorities allowed passports and other IDs to be used as valid voting cards. “These elections are very complicated,” said Madame Ndiaye, another Dakar resident.
“There are, for example, young people who just reached the age to vote but had never had an identity card before and who didn’t get their voting card. They couldn’t vote because they didn’t have another identity card,” Ndiaye said.
DW’s correspondent in Dakar, Aida Grovenstins, said voters had to wait for hours for polling stations to open. Babacar Camara, an opposition party representative at Stadion Oumar Diop said: “Since 9 a.m., we neither received the voting lists nor the ballot papers. We called the returning officer and he told us to be patient.”
Ex-President Wade returned to drum up support for his party in the opposition
Many local observers put out tweets on the voting process. Popular blogger Ismaila Dieng also tweeted about the delays in the opening of polling stations. “I went to different polling stations to observe how things were going and if people were voting normally,” said Dieng.
“Everywhere in Senegal, the election day started badly. The voting started late in many centers because the ballot papers weren’t there. A lot of Senegalese didn’t get their voting card and therefore couldn’t vote,” he added.
There is a lot at stake in the parliamentary elections, widely considered as the first round for the 2019 presidential election. Former president Abdoulaye Wade made a return to the political scene after two years to drum up support for his own list of candidates. But for President Sall, a parliamentary majority would serve as a boost in his second term bid.
Aida Grovenstins in Dakar contributed to this report.