Hundreds of observers muster to make sure Senegal's presidential vote is fair

Senegal votes on Sunday in a presidential election that is expected to be the most tightly contested in years. Before polls opened, a team of a thousand observers drawn from civil society was preparing to monitor the long-awaited vote.

In Dakar, Senegal's capital, a team of volunteers were stationed behind laptops, phones to their ears.

On the other end of the line were observers on the ground across Senegal, calling in in a rehearsal for Sunday's vote.

"We're looking at areas that don't have network coverage so that we can flag them up in the database, and see which observers are having trouble sending messages correctly," explained Khadija Mohamed, supervisor of the simulation exercise.

On the day of the vote itself, 500 observers will be stationed at polling offices around the country and another 500 will travel between sites to monitor the vote.

They'll be looking to see that voting opens on time and whether candidates are present at the count, as well as watching for any interference or irregularities that could threaten the credibility of one of Africa's most anticipated elections.

Tense political climate

First set for late February, the vote is taking place a month behind schedule in a tense political landscape.

While Sall initially sought to push the vote back to the end of 2024, pressure from at home and abroad forced election authorities to set an earlier date.

The 17 candidates – the most to stand in any presidential election in Senegal yet – had just two weeks to campaign.

Credibility crucial

With results likely to be close, observers say it's crucial that ballots are verified.

The race is widely expected to go to a second round at the end of March.

Read more on RFI English

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