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Senegal Voting Shows Civic Engagement

A poll worker helps a voter cast his ballot for president at a polling station in the Cambarene neighborhood of Dakar, Senegal, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

Following peaceful balloting, Senegal needs a runoff to choose its next president.

Senegalese voters went to the polls February 26 and the balloting appears to indicate that a runoff will be needed for the West African nation to choose its next president.

Senegal’s electoral commission has yet to release provisional results, but media reports based on preliminary returns indicate that none of the 14 candidates is close to receiving the minimum 50 percent of the vote required to be declared the winner. President Abdoulaye Wade acknowledged as much and urged his supporters to stay organized for a second round of voting, due on March 18.

In the February 26 voting, independent observers reported isolated incidents of questionable practices, but the process was largely peaceful and orderly. The United States applauds the Senegalese people for their enthusiasm, patience and civic engagement. We congratulate the nation’s security services for their professional conduct in maintaining calm and order during balloting, which followed weeks of demonstrations over President Wade’s decision to seek a third term.

We look forward to the Ministry of Election’s National Vote Tabulation Committee’s expeditious announcement of the results in accordance with Senegalese law, after completing the vote counting in a transparent and accountable manner. Likewise we urge the appropriate authorities to thoroughly examine and address any complaints in a fair and open manner.

Senegal has a proud history of stable democracy and unbroken elections since gaining independence from France in 1960. The United States will continue to engage the people of Senegal to ensure continued progress and lasting peace in the region.