Senegal’s presidential list excludes opposition leader

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Senegal’s presidential list excludes opposition leader

DAKAR – Senegal’s Constitutional Council on Saturday published a final list of 20 candidates for the 25 February presidential election that excludes jailed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade. Those listed include prime minister Amadou Ba, chosen by president Macky Sall as his successor after Sall announced in July that he would not seek a third term.

Also named were former prime ministers and rivals Idrissa Seck and Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, the ex-mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, and Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, presented as a substitute candidate for Sonko.

Faye, 43, a member of Sonko’s dissolved party, is also detained, but has not yet been tried. He has been in prison since April 2023 for “contempt of court” and “defamation against a corporate body” over a Facebook post.

Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, has been at the centre of a bitter stand-off with the state which has lasted more than two years, and sparked often deadly unrests.

The 49-year-old opposition figure has generated a passionate following among Senegal’s disaffected youth, striking a chord with his pan-Africanist rhetoric and tough stance on former colonial power France.

The Constitutional Council rejected Sonko’s candidacy due to his six-month suspended sentence for defamation, which was upheld by the Supreme Court on 4 January. He had also been handed a hefty fine for defamation and insults against tourism minister Mame Mbaye Niang.

In other legal cases, Sonko was sentenced in June to two years for morally corrupting a young person, and has been jailed since the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, conspiracy with terrorist groups, and endangering state security. He has denied the charges, saying they are intended to prevent him from running in February’s election, which the government rejects. – Nampa/AFP