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'Senegal wins' in presidential election, Macky Sall says in victory speech

Senegal's Macky Sall hailed a "new era" for the West African country in a midnight speech to his supporters after victory in the presidential election.

Senegal election: Abdoulaye Wade concedes defeat to Macky Sall (PHOTOS)

Senegal's incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat to challenger Macky Sall in Sunday's presidential run-off election, Senegalese state television has reported.

Senegal Presidential Election: Abdoulaye Wade and Macky Sall to face run-off (VIDEO)

President Abdoulaye Wade is likely to face run-off against former ally Macky Sall.
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A combination of two pictures taken in Dec. 2011 in Dakar shows (L) former Senegalese Prime Minister and opposition candidate of the Alliance pour la Republique (APR) Macky Sall and (R) current Senegalese president and presidential candidate Abdoulaye Wade. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — As is often the case with fraught election run-ups the vote itself was calm and peaceful on Sunday in Senegal.

There was the wonderful and rare moment when President Abdoulaye Wade was booed and jeered as he cast his own vote spoiling a normally well-choreographed photo op. But there were barely any reports of the fraud, intimidation or violence that frequently mars elections in Africa.

More from GlobalPost: 5 facts about Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade (VIDEO)

Now as the votes are counted up it seems that Wade is headed for second round run-off against his former ally Macky Sall.

In a bid to forestall the violent unrest that is widely forecast if Wade succeeds in winning a third term in office, the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo suggested that a compromise should be arranged in which Wade is allowed to rule for two years before stepping aside.

Let's hope that doesn't happen.

That kind of backroom deal dressed up as 'governments of national unity' in the name of reconciliation cheats ordinary people of their right to choose their own leaders and undermines nascent democracies.

More from GlobalPost: Week Ahead: Senegal, Iran and Russia go to the polls

Here's a video of Sunday's election:

Senegalese Vote in Presidential Polls
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Senegal Presidential Election: Rallies and riots continue

The voting on Sunday will likely be marked by triumphal rallies and violent riots.
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Text written on the ground in chalk reads 'Down with the police' as riot policemen stand guard, blocking access to Independence Square during an opposition demonstration against Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade's controversial bid for a third term, on Feb. 23, 2012, in Dakar. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Six people have died in recent weeks of political protest and violence in Dakar, Senegal's usually laidback seaside capital.

On Sunday the voting takes place in which President Abdoulaye Wade — the focus of the protestor's anger — will face 13 challengers, and today is the final day of campaigning.

It will likely be marked by triumphal rallies and violent riots.

More from GlobalPost: Senegal: Dakar rocked by anti-Wade demonstrations

The unrest was triggered by Wade's decision to stand for a third term despite promising not to when he was first elected in 2000. It doesn't help that Wade is at least 85-years old and rules over a very youthful population many of whom have just reached voting age.

Nor does it help that many suspect he is grooming his son, Karim, to succeed him.

Third terms, monarchical succession: these are strategies taken straight from the dictator's playbook.

More from GlobalPost: Africa's "generation chasm" shows why leaders are out of touch

The world is watching and nervously calling for calm.

They'll probably get it, at least until the results start to trickle in. That will be the real litmus test: will the election be viewed as free and fair by international observers and, more importantly, by opposition activists? Or will the results be a trigger for further protests and an still stronger government crackdown?

If you want to learn more London's Royal Institute of International Affairs, or Chatham House, has an excellent paper analyzing the coming elections.

More from GlobalPost: For Senegal, it's always the economy stupid

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Abdoulaye Wade: 5 facts about Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade (VIDEO)

With Senegal's election on Feb. 26, here are five interesting facts on President Wade.
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Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and his French wife Viviane wave to supporters during the investiture congress of the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party for the upcoming legislative elections, on Mar. 31, 2001 at Demba Diop stadium in Dakar. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — When Abdoulaye Wade was first elected Senegal's president in 2000, he was celebrated as a symbol of change for the West African country.

More than a decade later, however, many Senegalese people are violently protesting against his candidacy for reelection to a third term in office.

More from GlobalPost: Senegal: Dakar rocked by anti-Wade demonstrations

With Senegal's presidential election coming up on Feb. 26, here are five interesting facts you should know about Wade:

1. “Gorgui” or old man

Wade, 85, is Africa’s second oldest president after Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe who turned 88 on Feb. 21. Wade was born on May 29, 1926 in Kebemer, which is 95 miles north of the capital, Dakar, but some dispute Wade's real birth date, saying it was several years earlier. If Wade wins the election as he predicts, he would be at least 92 years old if he completes his seven-year mandate. According to the BBC, Wade owes his good health to his love for swimming.

More from GlobalPost: Africa's "generation chasm" shows why leaders are out of touch

2. Lover of France

Wade was awarded a scholarship to study in France after finishing secondary school in Senegal. He studied law in France, where he met his wife Viviane. They got married in 1963, and Wade worked in France as a barrister for a few years before returning to Senegal, where he set up his law practice. Wade and Viviane have two children, a son Karim Wade and a daughter Sindjely Wade.

3. “Super minister” son

Wade has been long accused of preparing his son Karim, 44, to be his successor. In 2009, Karim's appointment as "super minister" stirred much anger. In 2011, Wade tried to create a vice president position which people suspected was designed for his son. As "super minister" Karim oversees operations dealing with energy, international cooperation, regional development, air transport and infrastructure. Meanwhile Wade is being critized for wanting to remain in power to secure his son's future in leadership despite a vow Wade made in 2007 to step down in 2012.

4. Cunning Hare
In 1974, Wade convinced Senegal's independence-era leader and the poet-cum-president Leopold Sedar Senghor, to let him create an opposition party, the Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS), Al Jazeera reported. Wade initially formed PDS as a coalition group rather than an out-and-out opposition party. According to Reuters, "Wade lulled Senghor into a sense of security — only to stand against him in the 1978 vote." The shocked Senghor first dubbed  Wade "Diombor" (Wolof for "The Hare"), an animal known in traditional Senegalese folklore for its cunning.

5. Controversial statue

One of Wade's most controversial personal projects is the Africa Renaissance monument that was unveiled in 2010. While Senegal suffers from daily power outages and rising costs of living, Wade spent $27 million on a North Korean-built copper statue that is slightly bigger than New York's Statue of Liberty, reported Reuters. At its unveiling, GlobalPost's correspondent described the statue: "A muscled man emerges from a volcano. His left arm holds a baby aloft toward the West, his right arm pulls a scantily clad woman behind him." Some Senegalese joke that the statue is none other than Wade, his wife and his son Karim.

More from GlobalPost: Amid protest, Senegal's President Wade leads his own rally

Here's a recent video on Senegal's reaction to Wade before the 2012 election:

Wade Battling Many Fronts Ahead of Election
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Demonstrations intensify against Senegalese leader

Demonstrations against the reelection bid of current President Abdoulaye Wade escalated Wednesday as police fired tear gas to disperse an opposition march

Senegal: Anti-Wade protests small but determined

DAKAR, Senegal — Weekend protests failed to attract a massive crowd against Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade and his candidacy for a third term as president.
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