15 Senegal candidates call for vote before president leaves officeMon, 19 Feb 2024 19:39:42 GMT

Fifteen of the 20 candidates who were approved to stand in Senegal’s delayed February presidential poll have called for the new vote to be held no later than April 2.President Macky Sall, whose term officially runs out on that day, announced a postponement of the February 25 vote just hours before official campaigning was due to begin.The move plunged Senegal into its worst political turmoil in decades.Last week, the top constitutional body overturned the decision. However, it has left open the question of whether the election will be organised before Sall leaves office, or if the ballot will feature the same candidates.Fifteen of the original contenders signed a letter, seen by AFP on Monday, stating that “the new polling date and the date for the handover between the president and his successor must be held no later than April 2”.They added that the list of 20 names approved in January should remain the same.Two of the signatories confirmed the letter’s authenticity to AFP.Sall has said he intends to respect the Constitutional Council’s ruling and will “carry out the consultations necessary to organise the presidential election as soon as possible”.The letter’s signatories expressed “bitterness that, since the decision of the Constitutional Council, no action has been taken by the authorities to implement it”.The document was signed by some of the leading contenders, including detained anti-establishment candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall, who is not related to the president. It was not signed by Prime Minister Amadou Ba, who is the presidential camp’s own candidate.- ‘Brilliant victory’ -One of the two women candidates in the race said Monday that she was withdrawing because of questions over her dual French-Senegalese nationality.Senegal’s constitution does not allow dual nationals to run for the presidency. Rose Wardini, a gynaecologist and active member of civil society, said she would provide “all evidence” to the courts concerning her exclusively Senegalese nationality.She also called for the election to be held before April 2.Karim Wade, a former minister and son of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade, had been excluded from the race because of his dual French and Senegalese nationality.He accused two judges on the Constitutional Council of corruption, which was later used by the presidential camp to justify the postponement of the election.The coalition supporting his possible bid appeared on Monday to be pinning its hopes for victory on the dialogue promised by President Sall.The coalition will “participate fully in the national dialogue” which must be held “without delay,” said Amadou Lamine Thiam, who chairs the pro-Wade parliamentary group.He said that Wade, who has been living in exile in Qatar for several years, would soon return to Senegal, and called on his supporters to give him “an unprecedentedly warm welcome” in the run-up to his “brilliant victory” in the election.