Senegalese voters choose legislature

Senegalese voters on Sunday chose members of the legislature just months after a major presidential election, in a poll that the new president hopes will give him the parliamentary majority he needs to implement his policies in the West African nation.

Officials said that turnout was low as voters chose 150 parliamentary representatives.

"We call on the population to come out and vote," said Interior minister Mbaye Ndiaye.

President Macky Sall, who voted in his hometown of Fatick, said on private radio: "I invite citizens to go vote en masse. It's necessary for more people to vote, because it will give more credibility to the future National Assembly."

Ousmane Djiba, a 30-year-old mechanic, said he felt it was important to vote.

"In this country, it's the National Assembly who votes on laws," he said. "The new president, Macky Sall, would like a majority in the National Assembly, and that's why I'm here to vote for his coalition."

Sall's group faces a challenge from politicians from the former ruling party of ex-President Abdoulaye Wade.

Senegal elected Sall in a March runoff, ousting Wade, the incumbent of 12 years.

Wade conceded defeat to his opponent within hours of polls closing, and world leaders and observers applauded Senegal for holding a peaceful and transparent vote.

Wade had been considered among the rare African leaders committed to democracy in a neighborhood better known for rule by strongmen. However, his decision to seek a third term in office was fiercely criticized by many Senegalese, and violent protests during the election season left at least six people dead.