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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Melissa Chemam with RFI

Senegal's sponsorship phase for presidential candidates nears completion

Senegalese politician Khalifa Sall speaks in the presence of President Macky sall during the National Dialogue event at the Palace of the Republic in Dakar, on 31 May 2023. AFP - SEYLLOU

In Senegal, 21 candidates have made it through the sponsorship phase, which they are required to complete in order to stand in the presidential election. The final list will be known on 20 January.

The sponsorship phase requires potential candidates for the presidential election in Senegal to collect signatures demonstrating support from at least 0.6 percent of the electorate, 13 members of the National Assembly, or 120 mayors and heads of regional councils.

For the 25 February election, it started in October 2023.

Senegal's Constitutional Council finished examining the sponsorships on Wednesday this week, and has until 20 January to look through all other related documents including criminal records and the tax situation of potential candidates.

Prime Minister Amadou Ba, the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall and former minister Karim Wade, are among the 21 who have been accepted as presidential candidates.

Twelve others were accepted this week, including Idrissa Seck, who came second in the 2019 election, the former minister of agriculture and majority dissident Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, the former chief of staff Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, and Malick Gakou, another dissident from the majority and former minister of sports.

Only two women passed this first sponsorship milestone: the gynaecologist Rose Wardini and the entrepreneur Anta Babacar Ngom.

In total, 93 candidates had put their names forward to the Constitutional Council.

Senegal's Constitutional Council RFI / Laurent Correau

Over seventy rejects

Many candidates were rejected because of missing documents in their submission or because of an insufficient number of sponsors.

Others provided names of sponsors that are on other candidates' list of sponsors, which is not permitted.

The former prime minister, Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré, and Adama Faye, who is the brother of President Macky Sall, are among those that were rejected.

The former prime minister Aminata Touré, one of the rare women in the race, was not selected as she didn't have the right number of sponsors.

Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who claims the president is trying to prevent him from running, is also out of the race for now.

Complaints and irregularities

This sponsorship phase hasn't been easy.

Earlier this week, a collective of 28 contenders complained about the control system, including Sonko and Aminata Touré.

Aminata Touré, former prime minister of Senegal © AFP FOTO / SEYLLOU

“This is a first in the history of Senegal," Aminata Touré said. "The question we ask ourselves now is which register should we focus on, which electoral list does the Constitutional Council use to control sponsorship?"

The collective of 28 said thousands of names seem to have disappeared from the electoral register, with no proper explanation, at 10,000 people.

Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, former minister and candidate denounced a serious problem. "When someone has their voter card, is regularly registered, has never changed their polling station, they should be in the electoral file," he told RFI.

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