Senegal voted on Sunday in an election President Macky Sall is expected to win after strong economic growth in his first term, although rights groups criticised him for squeezing out rivals. The voting was largely incident-free.
Supporters chanted “Ole, Ole,” and flashed “V” for victory signs as Sall cast his vote in his hometown of Fatick.
“The elected president will have to be the president of all Senegal. I hope this president will be me,” he said.
It was not immediately clear how many of the country’s 6.5 million registered voters turned out. Official results are due on Friday with a run-off for the top two on March 24 if no one secures a majority.
Senegal’s small fish-exporting economy expanded more than 6 percent last year, one of the highest rates in Africa, driven by an ambitious reform and development plan that included the construction of a new railway.
The 57-year-old president promised to deliver universal healthcare and better access to education.
After voting in Fatick, pensioner Adama Sakho, 81, said he believed Sall would win in the first round, praising his social spending policies.
“I’m retired, and now in one month I receive the same amount of money I used to make in three months,” he said. “He has the hand of God. Everything he touches gets realised. And he brings luck, because it’s during his reign that we found oil and gas.”
There are hopes of an oil and gas boom in Senegal as energy majors develop previously untapped fields off its Atlantic coast.