Opposition figure who became Senegal’s president-elect won over 54% of the vote, results show

Supporters of presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Senegal's top opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, gather outside their campaign headquarters as they await the results of the presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Supporters of presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Senegal’s top opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, gather outside their campaign headquarters as they await the results of the presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s little-known opposition figure who was elected president this week in a tightly contested race won over 54% of the votes, according to results released on Wednesday.

The presidential election on Sunday marked a stunning victory for 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who was freed from prison less than two weeks ago and is now due to be the youngest leader of the West African nation.

The government-backed candidate, former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, conceded to Faye on Monday. President Macky Sall, who had backed Ba, also declared Faye the winner.

At a news conference in Dakar, the court of appeals announced Wednesday that Faye won 54.28% of the vote. Ba garnered 35.47% of the votes cast.

The results are preliminary — after all the votes have been counted — but are expected to be confirmed on Friday.

Faye’s release from prison followed a political amnesty granted just in time for the balloting. He was little known until popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was barred barred from running due to a prior conviction, chose Faye to run in his place.

In his first speech as president-elect, Faye promised to fight corruption and reform the economy.

The election came after months of unrest. Both Faye and Sonko were arrested last year, and there were concerns that the president would seek an unconstitutional third term.

President Sall sought to delay the election until December but that move was blocked by the country’s constitutional court, and the government was forced to allow the election to go forward this month.

The sole woman in the race, Anta Babacar Ngom, gained less than 1% of the votes. No other candidate among the 19 listed on the ballot got more than 3%, reflecting how voters were evenly divided between the two front-runners, Ba and Faye.

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