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Senegal ruling coalition suffers setbacks in key cities

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Senegal’s ruling coalition suffered crushing defeats in the capital and other major cities in Sunday’s local elections, local media reported, in a vote seen as a key test for the president.

Barthélemy Dias, the candidate of the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi who won the municipal elections in Dakar last Sunday, celebrates his victory with a caravan in the streets of the Senegalese capital.

“It is a victory of the people of Dakar, it is a victory of dignity, a victory of pride. Today I recall that Dakar has been humiliated by President Macky Sall throughout his reign and today Dakar has decided to take back its place as a capital city.”

“Dakar has made a choice, but Dakar has also sent a very strong political signal. We will strive for this mandate. Let it really be a mandate of rupture, so that Dakar can rediscover its programmes for the exclusive benefit of the people of Dakar. What you are seeing is only the beginning of the beginning for 2024.”

Analysts view the vote as a litmus test for support for President Macky Sall, 60, who the opposition suspects is planning a bid for a third presidential term in 2024.

The vote was the first in the West African country since deadly riots last year sparked by the arrest of 46-year-old opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.

Sunday’s vote was to decide the mayors of more than 500 municipalities and the heads of Senegal’s 46 departments.