Bloomberg News

Senegal’s Stability Bolstered by Wade’s Decision to Stand Down

March 26, 2012

Senegal’s political stability, hindered by violent protests against Abdoulaye Wade, will be bolstered by the leader’s decision to concede defeat and hand power to his former ally, Macky Sall, after an election.

“After some early concerns over the conduct of the incumbent, a peaceful and transparent second round and the readiness of Wade to concede will improve the democratic standing of Senegal and bolster investor confidence,” Anna Osborne, senior analyst at Bath, U.K.-based Maplecroft, a risk analysis company, said in an e-mailed note yesterday.

Wade, 85, conceded defeat after results from the March 25 election showed Sall with more than 50 percent of the vote in at least 10 of Senegal’s sub-regions, according to figures published by state-owned Agence de Presse Senegalaise, or APS. The West African nation’s Court of Appeal may give the outcome today, Isa Sall, spokesman for the electoral commission, said by phone from Dakar, the capital.

“This ballot will certainly mark a further step toward consolidating the democratic gains and political stability of Senegal,” said Koffi Sama, former prime minister of Togo and head of the Economic Community of West African States’ observer mission. “There were no major obstacles or incidences” during the vote, he told reporters in Dakar yesterday.

Eurobonds

A peaceful transition will support Senegal’s $500 million Eurobonds, which it sold last May, while boosting the country’s institutional credentials and reputation for political stability, Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist with Standard Bank Group Ltd. in London, said in an e-mailed note.

The yield on the bonds, due in 2021, dropped 56 basis points, or 5.6 percent, to a record low of 7.484 percent late yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It took only a few hours for Wade to admit he had lost, as early results showed that he was trailing by a wide margin,” Gadio said. “By doing so, Wade is also probably attempting to secure his legacy, which has been somewhat tarnished by the third term bid.”

Wade faced protests in Dakar and elsewhere against his attempt to extend his 12 years in office after his candidacy was approved by the Constitutional Court in January. Demonstrators claimed his bid for a third term violated a law that limits presidential tenures to two. At least nine people died in clashes with police during the protests, according to Amnesty International.

“It’s like we won the World Cup,” Oumar Kante, a 33-year- old unemployed computer technician, said in Dakar yesterday. “It was smart for Wade to give up before it got worse for him.”

New Era

A runoff was held after Wade fell short of the majority needed to win in the first round on Feb. 26, taking 34.8 percent of the vote. Sall, a 50-year-old who served as Senegal’s prime minister from 2004 to 2007, won 26.9 percent. Protests against Wade halted after observers said the first-round vote was mainly transparent and as the opposition rallied around Sall.

“A new era begins for Senegal,” Sall said late on March 25, according a statement published on APS’s website. “The electorate voted in calm and serenity. Their maturity is a source of pride for all of us.”

Sall’s coalition, called Benno Bokk Yakaar, or Grouping of Forces for Change in the Wolof language, includes 12 of the 14 candidates who ran in the first round. It brought together civil-society groups that organized the anti-Wade protests, such as Y’en a Marre and Mouvement 23, as well as Grammy award- winning singer Youssou N’Dour, whose candidacy was invalidated by the Constitutional Court on a technicality.

“These elections show grandeur on the part of both Wade and the Senegalese people,” said Oumar Diallo, a lawyer with the Dakar-based human rights group Raddho, which took part in the anti-Wade protests before the first round. “It will be an interesting time for the country, as we renew our political system and change perspectives.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Skelton in Bamako via Accra at rskelton7@bloomberg.net; Amanda Fortier in Dakar via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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