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Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com

It’s a busy weekend of elections in West Africa has where two of the region’s foremost democracies head to the polls to [r]elect new leaders. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country will hold its very contentious elections for president and national assembly on Saturday February 23, barely 24 hours before Senegalese would be voting for a president.

As expected, the stakes are high in both countries, which are seen as true pacesetters in democratic practices for a region that has been struggling to embrace elections as a means of choosing political leaderships.

However, the pre-election period has been characterized by uncertainty in both Nigeria and Senegal where campaign reported violence had led to at least 22 deaths in the French-speaking country.

International and regional organisations like the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the European Union have voiced concern and urged citizens in both countries to be calm and peaceful in the exercise of their franchise.

Both Nigeria and Senegal have incumbents facing stiff challenges for their respective presidencies, young people seen as crucial in deciding the outcomes for President Muhammadu Buhari against Atiku Abubakar and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall in a bigger field featuring four other contenders.

In Nigeria, the general elections should have taken place a week earlier but for what its Independent National Electoral Commission called logistical and operational problems, causing anger and frustration among ordinary Nigerian voters who had trekked for miles to polling stations only to find that the exercise had been called off at the eleventh hour.

The electoral body also announced that the governorship and House of Assembly, Abuja (FCT) Area Council elections have also been shifted from 2 March to 9 March.

Some 80 million Nigerians are registered to vote.

In Senegal, the number of polling stations expected to open on election day Sunday, totals 15,397, according to Interior Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye.

According to Ndiaye, 14,651 offices will be opened throughout the country while 746 polling spaces will be dedicated to Senegalese living abroad.

The total number of voting places is 6919 and the total number of voters is 6,683,043 (6,373,451 inside and 306,592 outside).

There are 40,100,000 printed ballots, representing 8,020,000 per candidate.

Three members of the administration will sit in each polling station, for a total of 46,191.

The National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) has appointed 15,397 controllers (one per polling station), where 76,985 representatives will represent the candidates in all the offices, i.e. one representative per candidate and per polling station. ref: USAfrica with APA

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