Senegal's president officially declared election winner

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese President Macky Sall was officially declared winner of the Feb. 24 vote on Tuesday, after the constitutional council confirmed his re-election with 58 percent of votes.

Provisional results announced by Senegal’s official counting body last week had showed Sall comfortably securing a second term without a run-off vote.

Sall had been tipped to win after a first term that propelled the West African country’s economic growth to more than six percent - one of the highest on the continent.

Rights groups criticized him for squeezing out rivals and the opposition rejected the results, but decided not to appeal.

“This renewed trust motivates me to work twice as hard, to do more and better,” Sall told a crowd of reporters gathered at the presidential palace on Tuesday.

Commenting on the election results for the first time, Sall thanked the voters for choosing continuity and supporting his modernizing plans. He also addressed opposition candidates, calling for dialogue and unity.

The council confirmed that runner-up Idrissa Seck secured 21 percent of the votes, while Ousmane Sonko came third with 16 percent.

More than 66 percent of 6.7 million registered voters took part in the election.

Senegal has long been viewed as the region’s most stable democracy, with peaceful transitions of power since it gained independence from France in 1960.

Sall said his swearing-in ceremony would take place on April 2.

Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Edmund Blair