Senegal votes in Parliamentary elections after tense campaign

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Voting is underway in Senegal’s Legislative elections on Sunday following tense campaigning between the rival coalitions of President Macky Sall, his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade and Dakar’s detained mayor Halifa Sall.

Polls opened as early as place 8:00am GMT and closes at 6:00pm GMT with first results expected early Monday.

More than 6.2 million people are registered to vote.

There are a record 47 lists of candidates contesting the election, with 165 lawmakers to be selected for Senegal’s parliament.

Fifteen seats are being set aside for Senegalese expatriates — the first time that the country’s diaspora, estimated at half a million, will have direct representation.

The election is seen as a crucial test of support ahead of a presidential election in 2019 in which incumbent Macky Sall is running for a second term under his APR Party ticket. He will seek to bolster his parliamentary majority as he eyes a second term.

Meanwhile, his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade, 91, attempts to drum up support for his own list of candidates and for his son, Karim Wade who is waiting in the wings with eyes on the top job.

President Sall’s other main opponent is Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall who is in jail awaiting trial for what supporters say are politically motivated embezzlement charges. He was charged in March with allegedly misappropriating 1.83 billion CFA francs ($2.85 million, 2.7 million euros) in city funds.

Mayor Sall had been seen as a key contender for 2019 presidential elections  and a potential threat to the president in parliament.