'Senegal wins' in presidential election, Macky Sall says in victory speech


Opposition challenger Macky Sall supporters celebrates their candidate victory at the their campaign headquarter in Dakar March 25, 2012. Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade admitted defeat in the presidential election Sunday evening as results gave an overwhelming lead to his rival Macky Sall, state media reported. The Senegalese Press Agency said Wade "phoned his rival Macky Sall at 2130 GMT (9:00 pm) to congratulate him after the first results showed him to be the winner of a presidential run-off" vote.



Senegal's Macky Sall hailed a "new era" for the West African country in a midnight speech to his supporters after victory in the presidential election.

Incumbent Abdoulaye Wade conceded defeat in a phone call to Sall late Sunday as initial results showed the opposition candidate with a commanding lead. Sall's supporters began celebrating in the streets of Dakar, the capital, as results came in, the Associated Press reported.

"The big winner tonight is the Senegalese people," Sall told hundreds of supporters and journalists, according to Reuters. "We have shown to the world our democracy is mature. I will be the president of all the Senegalese."

"Tonight, a new era begins for Senegal," he said, according to the AP.

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The results so far indicate that about 65 percent of the vote went to Sall, compared to about 35 percent for Wade, the BBC said. Full results are expected in the next two days.

President Wade said Monday he had kept his promise by conceding defeat by calling Sall to congratulate him after early results indicated he had won, the AP said. Some had feared that Wade, 85, who changed the constitution so he could seek a third term, would contest the results.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said the result is "good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular," the BBC reported. "Senegal is a major African country and a model of democracy," Sarkozy said.

Six people were killed in protests in the lead up to February's election, but campaigning for the second round was calm in comparison, with only a few clashes reported between rival supporters, the BBC said.

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In the first round of elections, in February, Wade fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a run off, receiving only 34.82 percent while the 13 opposition candidates split the remaining votes.

They united behind Sall, 50, a former prime minister who ran Wade's 2007 campaign, for Sunday's run-off election.

With the election coming just days after a coup in neighboring Mali, European Union election observers urged Senegal to prove its reputation as a bastion of democracy in the region, Agence France-Presse said.

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