World praises Senegal's political 'maturity'


Africa and the world praised Senegal’s presidential vote Monday as a democratic example for the continent and hailed its outgoing leader for conceding defeat at the polls, reports AFP.

Incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, 85, called his challenger Macky Sall, 50, to offer congratulations and concede defeat after Sunday’s run-off vote, scotching fears that he would try to cling to power after 12 years as president.

“We congratulate the Senegalese people for their democratic spirit,” Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told a news conference in Brussels.

“Today is a great victory for democracy in Senegal and in Africa. Senegal is a great example for Africa.”

The UN’s special representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, hailed the vote as free and fair.

In a statement he “congratulates the Senegalese people for the democratic victory”, and congratulated them on their “political maturity”.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of former colonial master France hailed the outcome as “very good news for Africa in general and for Senegal in particular.

Senegal is a “model of democracy”, he told French radio, adding that Wade “should be congratulated”.

France, Washington and other of Senegal’s Western powers had urged Wade to step aside after he secured backing from the constitutional court to seek a controversial third term.

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The African Union said Wade’s move showed the “maturity” of democracy in the west African nation.

“The peaceful conduct of the presidential elections proved that Africa, despite its challenges, continues to register significant progress towards democracy and transparent elections,” AU commission chairman Jean Ping said.

Thomas Boni Yayi, president of Benin and current AU chairman, “commended not only the maturity of outgoing Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade for the wisdom he exhibited … but also for the maturity of the people in expressing their voting rights,” Foreign Minister Arifari Bako said.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said Sall’s election was a “victory for democracy and just reward for all Senegalese people who kept faith in the democratic process.”

The Nigerian leader also commended Wade “for graciously accepting defeat, showing great maturity and statesmanship and organising an election that was adjudged free and fair”.

“The outcome of the election in Senegal is good for West Africa and the African continent,” Jonathan said.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said the outcome was a crowning achievement for democracy in Senegal.

He also expressed that the handover of power showed “the political maturity of the Senegalese people.”

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