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Senegal kicks off presidential election campaign

media Ousmane Sonko supporters get their float ready for a parade in Dakar. RFI/William de Lesseux

In Senegal, campaigning has begun for presidential elections ahead of the first round on 24 February. Five candidates will contest the vote, including incumbent Macky Sall – but two prominent opposition figures have been excluded.

Here are the five candidates for the 24 February first round:

  • President Macky Sall APR (Alliance for the Republic)
  • Opposition MP Ousmane Sonko PASTEF
  • Former prime minister Idrissa Seck PDS (Senegalese Democratic Party)
  • Madicke Niang, associate of former president Abdoulaye Wade – PDS
  • El Hadji Sall PDR (Parti Demain La République)

Thousands of supporters of both barred politicians have staged protests in recent months calling for fair and transparent elections while challenging the impartiality of the justice and interior ministries.

President Sall, 57, was elected in 2012 as head of state of one of West Africa's most prosperous and stable countries.

Opposition heavyweights excluded

Senegal’s Constitutional Court on 20 January confirmed a list that barred former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and ex-minister Karim Wade from the election because of convictions for misuse of public funds.

Sall, 63, one of Senegal's most popular politicians, was handed a five-year jail term in March 2018 for fraudulent use of public funds, a conviction that he said was politically motivated. He appealed it unsuccessfully.

Wade, 50, was widely seen as being groomed to succeed his father, former president Abdoulaye Wade.

In 2015, shortly after his father's party, the centrist PDS, designated him its candidate for these presidential elections, Wade was given a six-year jail term for "illegal enrichment" – after amassing a fortune allegedly worth at least 178 million euros.

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