Both Senegal's ruling coalition and opposition alliance claim victory in legislative polls

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Senegal's opposition and President Macky Sall's ruling coalition have both claimed to have won legislative elections held at the weekend, while the vote count continues.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Khalifa Sall, one of the opposition leaders said: "What is undeniable is that it is we who won this election.

"We won and we will not accept that our victory is stolen from us," he added.

Incumbent president Macky Sall's ruling coalition has, however, maintained that it has won while acknowledging the opposition had made some gains in Sunday's legtislative polls.

No cohabitation

Former prime minister Aminata Touré, who led the presidential coalition's list in the elections, rejected "any possibility of cohabitation and ... reassure[d] our activists that we remain in the majority at the end of this election, despite an advance by the opposition."

The opposition hoped the elections would impose a cohabitation – or divided government – on President Sall and curb any ambitions he may have for a third term.

Sunday's vote, which is the last before presidential elections slated for 2024, were an important test for Macky Sall after local elections in January saw the opposition win in major cities, including the capital Dakar, Ziguinchor to the south and Thies in the west.

Touré claimed to have won 30 of the 46 departments in the country and overseas constituencies when polls closed on Sunday evening.

"This undoubtedly gives us a majority in the National Assembly," she said, while acknowledging her coalition had been defeated in the Senegalese capital.

Opposition collaboration

The main opposition alliance, however, expressed "astonishment" at Touré's remarks, claiming it had won a "comfortable majority" and that the presidential camp was "looking to once again confiscate the vote".

In a statement Monday, the opposition called "on national and international opinion to act as witnesses against any attempt to manipulate the results."

Ahead of the election, Yewwi Askan Wi (meaning "Liberate the People" in Wolof), the main opposition coalition headed by Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, joined forces with Wallu Senegal ("Save Senegal"), led by former president Abdoulaye Wade.

The groups had agreed to work together to obtain a parliamentary majority and "force governmental cohabitation."

Opposition gains ground

Overall provisional results are due no later than Friday, but initial indications sugget the poll was closely run and that the main opposition coalition had made significant gains, particularly in urban areas.

The single round of voting will decide the 165 seats of the single-chamber parliament – currently controlled by the president's supporters – for the next five years.

Sall has promised to appoint a prime minister – a position he abolished and then restored in December 2021 – from the winning camp.

Some seven million Senegalese were eligible to vote in the election, which passed without any major incidents, although turnout was reportedly low with the participation rate estimated at around 47 per cent.

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