Voters in Senegal are set to elect a new parliament following a tense campaign between rival coalitions in an election seen as a crucial test of support ahead of a presidential election in 2019.
Polling takes place between 8:00am and 6:00pm local time (08:00 to 18:00 GMT) on Sunday, with first results due early Monday.
More than 6.2 million people in the west African nation are registered to vote.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall is seeking to bolster his parliamentary majority as he eyes a second term, while his 91-year-old predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, attempts to drum up support for his own list of candidates.
Sall is not up for re-election until 2019, but he expects his coalition to perform well against a fractured opposition in this election, propelling him towards a second term.
Sall’s other main opponent, Khalifa Sall, is the mayor of Dakar and is currently in jail awaiting trial over embezzlement charges.
The mayor was seen as a key presidential contender and a potential threat to the president in parliament, until he was charged in March with allegedly misappropriating 1.83bn CFA francs ($2.85m) in city funds.
Campaigning was marred by tragedy on July 15, when eight people were killed as rival supporters clashed during Senegal’s football league final in Dakar. A stampede caused a wall to fall on escaping fans.
The president asked Senegal’s constitutional council to relax voting rules so people without the cards could use passports or other forms of identification to cast their ballots, along with proof they had applied for the IDs.