Senegal president’s coalition loses absolute majority in parliament

People stand in line outside a voting station in Ziguinchor on July 31, 2022. Senegalese voters head to the polls Sunday for parliamentary elections the opposition hopes will force a coalition with President Macky Sall and curb any ambitions he may hold for a third term. (Photo by MUHAMADOU BITTAYE / AFP)

Senegalese President Macky Sall’s coalition lost its absolute majority in parliament but finished first by a narrow margin in parliamentary polls, official results showed Thursday.

His coalition won 82 seats of the National Assembly’s 165, while the opposition alliance nabbed 80 in total in the election on Sunday, the national commission in charge of counting votes said.

Three other seats were won by three small coalitions, that could serve as kingmakers.

It is the first time since the historically stable West African country’s independence in 1960 that the ruling party’s camp has lost its absolute majority and will have to rely on other forces in parliament to pass legislation.

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In the previous legislative election in 2017, the president’s coalition, which includes his party Alliance for the Republic (APR) and other parties, won 125 seats.

Opposition parties had already begun gaining momentum in municipal elections in January, when they won major cities including the capital Dakar, Ziguinchor in the south and Thies in the west.

For Sunday’s vote, the main opposition coalition, Yewwi Askan Wi (which means “Liberate the People” in Wolof), formed an alliance with the Wallu Senegal (“Save Senegal”) coalition, led by former president Abdoulaye Wade.

They won 56 and 24 seats, respectively.

Yewwi Askan Wi’s highest-profile member, Ousmane Sonko, came third in the 2019 presidential election.

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He was prevented from running in Sunday’s vote over a technicality.

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