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The BBC's Mark Doyle in Dakar
"Mr Wade is a very capable politician"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 05:00 GMT
UN praises Senegal elections
Abdoulaye Wade
Abdoulaye Wade was engulfed by supporters after his victory
The United Nations has praised Senegal for peaceful presidential elections in which opposition candidate Abdoulaye Wade defeated President Abdou Diouf.

The United Nations "congratulates the people and the government for the peaceful conduct of those elections, which are a testimony to Senegal's long-standing democratic tradition", UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The first great objective of my political life was to get rid of a system in Senegal. Midnight has struck, the system is dead

Abdoulaye Wade
Provisional results give Mr Wade more than 60% of the vote in the second round, ending 40 years of uninterrupted rule by Mr Diouf's Socialist Party.

Mr Wade said he had achieved the main political objective of his life: to usher in an era of proper multi-party politics.

The defeated president conceded defeat, wishing Mr Wade success "in this noble and exalting task at the service of the Senegalese people as a whole".

Abdou Diouf of Senegal
President Diouf: Wished his opponent luck
Mr Diouf added that being president is "a difficult mission and I wish you all the luck in the world".

"The most important thing for me ... is that Senegal shows the world it is a democratic country, a country where the law is upheld and human rights are respected," he said.

Mr Diouf now plans to lead his party's parliamentary opposition and has no plans to give up politics.

The incoming president left Dakar on Monday to pay homage to his Muslim religious mentor in the town of Touba, about 190km (120 miles) east of the capital.

New constitution

Mr Wade is expected to take office by 3 April.

He has said that a transitional government would rule for 12 months during which time a new constitution will be drawn up, limiting the extensive powers of the presidency and turning Senegal into a parliamentary democracy.

Abdoulaye Wade
Mr Wade is promising a clean and transparent government
He is expected to make Moustapha Niasse prime minister.

Mr Niasse, a Socialist Party dissident, was a candidate in the first round of the election at the end of February and then crucially decided to back Mr Wade in Sunday's run-off.

The newly-elected president first ran for the presidency in 1978 against ex-President Leopold Senghor.

His supporters were jubilant that he had won at this, his fifth, attempt. "Am I dreaming?" laughed Boubacar Diop, a 57-year-old taxi driver who was driving a car full of celebrating youths. "I don't think I'm still sleeping."

"This is destiny. This is paradise!" cried Serigne Fallou, a 41-year-old Wade supporter who camped out all night outside the candidate's home in Dakar.

Wade supporters
The streets of Dakar have been full of celebrating Wade supporters
"We are in heaven today."

Critics accuse Mr Diouf, who came to power in 1981, of fostering a corrupt elite and ignoring the country's poor. In recent years, unemployment and crime have increased in Dakar.

Mr Wade, 74, tapped a growing desire among poor voters for change.

Nearly two-thirds of the West African nation's population is illiterate, and hospitals and roads are badly neglected.

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28 Feb 00 | Africa
Row over Senegal vote
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