Senegal is going to the polls, with incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a third term having sparked deadly protests in one of Africa’s most stable countries.

Around 5.3 million people are registered to vote. Voting began at 8am local time on Sunday and will run until 6pm.

The former French colony is one of the continent’s pioneer democracies, boasting an unbroken series of elections since independence in 1960.

The election takes place amid appeals for calm by Thomas Boni Yayi, African Union president, and for “peaceful and transparent” elections by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who also said he was “concerned”.

However, Wade’s third term bid is proving a test of Senegal’s democratic credentials, prompting international concern after weeks of protests.

Wade, 85, is facing 13 opposition candidates including three former prime ministers Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall, Moustapha Niasse and socialist leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng.

None has emerged as a front-runner against Wade.  Read more…