Senegalese opposition party sponsors new candidate in presidential polls

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The party of Senegal’s jailed opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, says it was sponsoring its number two politician, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, as candidate for the 25th February presidential election.

The announcement came just days after the country’s Supreme Court effectively blocked Sonko’s own bid.

The dissolved Patriots of Senegal (Pastef) party said, however, that Sonko’s candidacy has been maintained.

Election authorities have refused to provide him with the sponsorship papers that need to be submitted by early December.

Although Diomaye Faye does not enjoy the same popularity as the party’s leader, his choice has been welcomed by a large number of its supporters.

“I think it’s the ideal choice, the right choice, because whatever people may say, we’re in a rather complicated, highly strategic political context,” said Dakar resident, Amadou Sy.

Another person said that while it was clear the Sonko would be ineligible and he had to choose a “plan B”, a concern was that Bassirou Diomaye Faye is not well known.

The other problem is that Faye, who is Pastef’s Secretary General, is currently also in prison.

A tax and property inspector, he was arrested in April on charges of “spreading false news, insulting a magistrate and defaming a constituted body” after making comments on social media.

He is still awaiting trial and, like Sonko, he is now also facing a slew of other criminal charges that the party believes are politically motivated.

But for Souleyman, a Dakar resident, the fact that Faye is in prison does not scare him.

“If he’s been chosen as number one while still in prison, it’s because they know what they’re doing,” he said.

“I think that if the leaders have put their trust in Bassirou Diomaye Faye, then all people have to do is get involved and offer him the sponsorship he needs to run.”

Following his naming as Pastef’s candidate for the presidential polls, supporters of Ousmane Sonko are already calling in the troops.

They are mobilising to launch a collection of sponsorships and have only two weeks left to make a success of their campaign.

Africanews/Hauwa M.

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