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Does Youssou N’Dour change the stakes in Senegal’s election?

By Mark John
January 13, 2012

Although N’Dour has only an outside chance of winning, the  answer is yes he does – for at least two reasons.

1 – As N’Dour himself points out, his entry into the Feb. 26 race will guarantee a degree of international media exposure that the election otherwise would not have had. That may in turn mean there will be closer scrutiny of the kind of irregularities in voting procedures that have been a feature of recent African elections. Put simply, it will be harder for anyone to rig the poll.

2 – N’Dour’s popularity means he could emerge with a respectable score despite the reluctance of many Senegalese to back a candidate seen as having little formal education and associated with the  ”griot” caste linked to  music, poetry and the oral tradition. The question then is whose votes will he take. If those votes  come at the expense of incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, that could upset Wade’s stated aim of securing a victory in the first round and push him into an unpredictable head-to-head whoever emerges as  his closest rival. If one the other hand he cannibalises the vote of other candidates such as Idrissa Seck or Macky Sall, that will not help the  already fragmented opposition to Wade.

Here is the Reuters interview with N’Dour after he announced his candidacy.

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