Feb. 27 - Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade in tight race with his main rival Macky Sall, according to early unofficial tallies from contentious poll. Nick Rowlands reports.
A group of men in the Senegalese capital Dakar read newspaper headlines about the contentious presidential race. Partial unofficial results show incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade just ahead of his rival and former protégé Macky Sall. The election follows weeks of violent street protests against 85-year-old Wade's bid for a third term in office despite a two-term limit. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PIERRE IGNACE SAGNAN, STUDENT, SAYING: "It's a good change for the country because Sall is an ambitious young man and really, we saw when he was in the governmental machine last time the way he worked. And now he comes to show to his critics that he is here, he's not politically extinct and that he's back." Sall, who is 50 years old, served as minister of the interior and prime minister before falling out with Wade and resigning his posts in 2008. He was among several opposition figures who organized near-daily demonstrations in the run-up to Sunday's vote. Despite this, Wade was confident of winning in the first round. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PIERRE IGNACE SAGNAN, STUDENT, SAYING: "We saw that the Senegalese people are wise and people went out and voted massively. The president maybe thought that he was going to win in the first round but people showed him that we've had enough of him, and that he can go." A candidate must score an outright majority to win in the first round, otherwise the top two candidates compete in a run-off. Many opposition supporters say they will rally behind Sall if the election goes to a run-off, no matter who their original candidate was. Nick Rowlands, Reuters