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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 09:43 GMT
Senegal awaits election outcome
Voters queuing in Senegal
Long queues formed early outside Dakar polling stations
Vote counting is under way in Senegal's presidential election, with partial results giving President Abdoulaye Wade a lead over his 14 challengers.

But it is still too early to say if Mr Wade will reach the 50% needed to win in the first round of voting.

Mr Wade, who is seeking a second term, has come under pressure in recent months over high rural unemployment.

Turnout was high and some polling stations stayed open an extra four hours to cope with the queues.

Mr Wade sounded confident after he cast his vote and as the counting progressed he was quick to claim victory.

But as the results trickle in, President Wade, who came from behind to win in the last election, will be well aware of the danger of a second round, says the BBC's Will Ross in Dakar.

Idrissa Seck

Since that election, which saw a rare transfer of power in Africa by the ballot from one leader to a rival, President Wade has fallen out with several of his allies, some of whom were on the ballot papers.

Two of them were Moustapha Niasse and the youthful Idrissa Seck, who have both served as prime minister in Mr Wade's administration.

Ousmane Tanor Dieng, who served under the previous president, Abdou Diouf, was also seen as a strong contender.

New system

Senegal, a predominately Muslim nation, is seen as a rare model of stable democracy in Africa. It is the only West African nation not to have experienced a coup since independence, and polls in 2000 passed off peacefully.

President Abdoulaye Wade at a rally in Dakar on 23 February
President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a second term in office

This time some five million people are eligible to vote.

Our correspondent says that after voting began at 0800GMT on Sunday, lengthy queues formed at more than 11,000 polling stations across the country.

Some voters said they would again be backing Mr Wade, pointing that he had started a number of large-scale projects to transform the country.

Others say the construction projects are doing nothing to address the real needs of poor Senegalese.

The number of voters has almost doubled since the last election and there have been no independent opinion polls.

And with so many candidates, it may be extremely hard for any of them to get the 50% of votes needed to win outright in a first round, our correspondent says.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Campaigning in Senegal



SEE ALSO
Q&A: Senegal election
21 Feb 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Senegal
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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