Presidential election in Senegal: 20 candidates selected, Sonko and Wade excluded

Presidential election in Senegal: 20 candidates selected, Sonko and Wade excluded

The Senegalese Constitutional Council published on Saturday the final list of 20 candidates for the February 25 presidential election, which does not include two notable opponents: Ousmane Sonko, currently in prison, and Karim Wade, son and minister of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade .

The list includes the government candidate, Prime Minister Amadou Bâ, the former heads of government Idrissa Seck and Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, and Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, presented as Mr. Sonko’s replacement candidate.

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

Ousmane Sonko, central figure in a standoff lasting more than two years with the State which gave rise to episodes of deadly unrest, is not on the list, as expected. Popular among young people, he was among the favorites in the presidential election.

The Council, after a last appeal by Mr. Sonko, rejected his candidacy due to a final sentence for defamation to six months in prison, suspended on January 4, making him “ineligible for five years”, in a case l opposing a minister.

In two other cases, Mr. Sonko was found guilty in June of embezzlement of a minor and sentenced to two years in prison, then imprisoned at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist enterprise and attack on state security.

Mr. Sonko denounced a plot to prevent him from participating in the presidential election, which the government denies.

The final list includes two women, Rose Wardini, gynecologist and civil society actress, and entrepreneur Anta Babacar Ngom.

This is the first time that Senegal is organizing a presidential election with so many candidates, constitutionalist Babacar Guèye told AFP on Saturday. Five candidates were selected during the 2019 presidential election, won by President Macky Sall.

“Inadmissible” candidacy of Karim Wade –

Opponent Karim Wade, son of former President Wade (2000-2012), saw his candidacy deemed “inadmissible” due to his dual French and Senegalese nationality, according to the Council.

Any candidate for the presidency “must be exclusively of Senegalese nationality, enjoy their civil and political rights,” says the Constitution.

Karim Wade, 55, born in France to a Senegalese father and a mother of French origin, produced a sworn declaration dated December 21 according to which he has exclusively Senegalese nationality, indicated the Council.

However, the document he presented is a decree dated January 16 published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. The court considers that the effects of the decree establishing Mr. Wade’s renunciation of his French nationality “are not retroactive” and that his sworn declaration was “inexact” at the time of its filing.

Former minister Thierno Alassane Sall, himself a candidate, filed an appeal on Monday against Mr. Wade’s candidacy, deeming it unconstitutional.

Karim Wade denounced on Sunday on X “a scandalous decision” and “a new legal plot”, announcing his intention to seize international courts.

He was prevented from running in the 2019 presidential election due to his conviction in 2015 to six years in prison for illicit enrichment. Detained for more than three years, he was pardoned in 2016 by President Sall, and has since lived in exile abroad.

The National Assembly passed a law in August restoring his eligibility.

The 25 deputies from Karim Wade’s party, out of the 165 in this Assembly, “ demand » the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the conditions for eliminating presidential candidates, “especially this one” of Mr. Wade, in a press release sent to AFP on Sunday.

Senegal is organizing a presidential election for the first time without the participation of the outgoing president.

Macky Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019, declared in July that he would not run again in February 2024.

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