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Senegalese ready for 24 March presidential vote

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After months of political uncertainty and tensions, all appears set for Senegal’s 7.03 million registered voters to choose their country’s new president at the rescheduled election on 24th March 2024

ECOWAS, the regional bloc is deploying 130 Long-term and Short-term observers led by Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Nigeria’s former Foreign Minister and United Nations Under-Secretary General to monitor the electoral processes.

Electioneering campaigns are ongoing, ending on the 23rd of March, across the nation’s 14 regions including the capital, Dakar.

The 19 presidential candidates on the campaign trail include Amadou Ba, former Prime Minister and the flag bearer of the ruling APR party and outgoing President Macky Sall.

There is also Bassirou Diomaye Faye of the main opposition coalition, which includes the dissolved PASTEF of the recently released Ousmane Sonko and the only female candidate Anta Babacar Ngom of the ARC party.

Fourteen ECOWAS Long-term observers, LTOs, are already on ground monitoring various stages to ensure compliance with international standards.

They will be joined by their Short-term colleagues this week.

The LTO Team deployed to Diourbel and Louga regions, east and south-west of the national capital Dakar, have been engaging with major stakeholders to establish the level of preparations.

During meetings with the LTO Team, officials from the security agencies, police and gendarmerie, as well as the National Electoral Commission at the regional level, CEDA, regional Governors and Prefects of Diourbel and Louga confirmed their readiness and expressed optimism that the electoral processes would be peaceful.

They noted that substantial amounts of the Electoral materials had either been received, while others were being expected.

They appealed to the registered voters to come forward and collect the voters’ cards.

The Electoral Commission, CEDA, which supervises elections in the country, was also carrying out training of Electoral Controllers and Supervisors.

Senegal has continued to make incremental progress in gender mainstreaming, but only five of the country’s 46 Prefects and three of 14 regional Governors are female.

The head of CEDA in Diourbel is a female, while Louga is blazing the trail in gender inclusivity with a female Governor, a female Police Commissioner, and a female Prefect.

An official of the regional Association of Journalists and Media Workers in Diourbel Oumar Bayo Ba described the media space as relatively peaceful.

However, he cited as one difficulty, the fact that funds promised to journalists by government to facilitate their work during elections had not been released.

But Ba also warned that for the media to maintain its neutrality and independence, journalists should not depend on the government’s financial support to carry out their constitutional functions, which is an obligation they owe the people.

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