Senegal court bars two opposition candidates from presidential vote

DAKAR (AFP) – Senegal’s Constitutional Court has published an official list of five candidates to contest next month’s presidential election, including Head of State Macky Sall – but excluding two prominent opposition figures.

The seven-member court late last Sunday confirmed a provisional list issued last week that barred former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and ex-minister Karim Wade because of convictions for misuse of public funds.

Aside from Macky Sall, the four other candidates in the February 24 vote will be rising opposition MP Ousmane Sonko; former prime minister Idrissa Seck; Madicke Niang, an associate of former president Abdoulaye Wade; and El Hadji Sall of the Unity and Assembly Party (PUR).

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, who is not related to the two other men of the same name, was elected in 2012, taking the helm of one of West Africa’s most prosperous and stable countries.

The former French colony has been seen as a model of democracy in the region, having never experienced a coup d’etat and successfully staging peaceful transfers of power in 2000 and 2012.

The court rejected appeals filed by Wade and Khalifa Sall against the provisional ruling.

“Naturally, we totally reject the decision that has just been made public by the Constitutional Court,” a representative for Khalifa Sall, Babacar Thioye Ba, told reporters.