Opponents in Senegal complain about obstacles in their sponsorships for presidential election

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
Senegal Opponents in Senegal complain about obstacles in their sponsorships for presidential election
OCT 23, 2023 LISTEN

Presidential candidates in Senegal have denounced a number of  arrests of supporters as they collected political sponsorship, a crucial step  in the run up to the February 2024 polls. Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko is also still facing legal challenges.

On Saturday, Khalifa Sall's Taxawu party denounced the arrests after their cars were been stopped for hours in the Fatick region, south east of the capital Dakar.

“We did not have a sound system, we did not occupy the public highway. We were not in an illegal situation. We went to a village to collect sponsorship,” party member Saliou Sarr told RFI.

The police said that the 30-vehicles convoy had not be authorised.

Candidate Malick Gakou also shared videos of a convoy being stopped on social media by the police in Kébémer, north east of Dakar.

Opposition candidates are being harassed, according to Alioune Tine, from the Afrikajom think tank.

However,Amadou Ba, the prime minister and candidate for the ruling coalition, has been on tour in the north of the country, but has had no problems.

“A prime minister running for president can travel while other candidates cannot? No!" Tine complained. "Even if Amadou Ba wins correctly, people will contest and that will bring problems.” 

He also thinks that Amadou Ba should leave his post as prime minister  if he is to continue to campaign.

 Sonko's campaign

Meanwhile, the popular PASTEF party said on Friday that the Senegalese authorities were refusing to issue documents necessary for their leader Ousmane Sonko to submit his candidacy papers.

The interior ministry has denied the claim.

A judge in Ziguinchor, in Casamance,  where Sonko is mayor, however, ruled that Sonko shouldbe  re-instated on the electoral lists. which prevented him from being a candidate. This effectively allows Sonko to run.

The General Directorate of Elections (DGE), which depends on the Ministry of the Interior, "has refused" since Thursday "to issue the forms used to collect the sponsorships necessary for a candidacy, a spokesperson for the dissolved PASTEF party, Ousseynou Ly, told French news agency AFP on Friday.

It is "a ruse to draw on waiting times, to speed up their appeal, and to hinder the execution of a court decision", denounced El Malick Ndiaye, another close collaborator of Sonko, on social media, calling President Macky Sall's term a "dictatorship".

Ndiaye called on the opposition to unite to demand a “free, inclusive and transparent election and avoid an electoral hold-up”.