Senegal is going to the polls today to elect a new president among a field of 15 candidates. The 80-year-old incumbent is Abdoulaye Wade, an economic liberal first elected in 2000. He says he is confident he will win outright in the first round: “It’s up to the Senegalese to decide. If the Senegalese say I’m an old ‘gaga’ who can’t do anything, they will say ‘Papa, go and rest’.”
The leader of the Socialist party, Ousmane Tanor Dieng, is another top contender. He is hoping to get the Socialists back into the presidential palace where they ruled for four decades before Wade came to power. Another leading candidate is the former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck. He used to be considered a protegé of Wade’s and was number two in the ruling Democratic party. However, there was a rift between the two men and Seck was sacked in 2004. He later spent six months in custody, accused of threatening state security.
Senegal is a former French colony, the only country in West Africa not to have experienced a coup since gaining independence. Some of the candidates in these elections have already warned they will challenge the results as fraudulent if Wade wins outright in the first round.