The Senegalese Constitutional Council published on Saturday, January 20, a final list of twenty candidates for the February 25 presidential election, which does not include Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade.
These include the candidate from the presidential camp, Prime Minister Amadou Bâ, the former heads of government and opponents Idrissa Seck and Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, as well as Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye, who was presented as a candidate to replace the imprisoned opponent Ousmane Sonko. Mr Faye, 43, a member of Mr Sonko's disbanded party, is also detained but has not yet been brought to trial.
Ousmane Sonko, central figure in a more than two-year conflict with the state that led to several episodes of deadly unrest, is expected not to appear on the list. Popular with young people, he was one of the favorites in the presidential election. The Constitutional Council rejected his candidacy on January 5 due to a final conviction for defamation with a six-month suspended prison sentence, in which he ran against a minister who belonged to the presidential camp.
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In another case, in June 2023, Ousmane Sonko was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for debauchery of a minor and an attack on state security. Mr Sonko denounced a conspiracy to stop him from taking part in the presidential election, which the government denies.
The list published by the Constitutional Council also includes two women, Rose Wardini, gynecologist and civil society actress, and entrepreneur Anta Babacar Ngom.
Karim Wade's dual citizenship is questionable
The opponent Karim Wade, son but also minister of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), is absent due to a candidacy that is considered “inadmissible” according to the Council constitution due to his dual French and Senegalese nationality.
Any presidential candidate “shall be of Senegalese nationality only, enjoy his civil and political rights and be at least 35 years old and at most 75 years old on election day,” the constitution says. He must also be able to write, read and speak the official language French fluently.
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Karim Wade, born in France to a Senegalese father and a mother of French origin, submitted an affidavit dated December 21, 2023, stating that he only has Senegalese nationality, the council said. However, the evidentiary document he presented was a decree dated January 16, published the following day in the Official Gazette of the French Republic. The court considers that the effects of the decree confirming Karim Wade's loss of his French nationality are “not retroactive” and that his affidavit was “inaccurate” at the time it was filed.
Former minister Thierno Alassane Sall, himself a candidate, said he had lodged an appeal against Mr Wade's candidacy on Monday and considered it unconstitutional.
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With just over a month to go, there is complete uncertainty about the outcome of the two-round election. Senegal is organizing a presidential election for the first time without the participation of the incumbent. President Macky Sall, elected to a seven-year term in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, declared in July 2023 that he would not run again. He then chose Prime Minister Amadou Bâ as his successor, a choice that was contested by majority officials, including former Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne and former minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, who is also among the twenty selected candidates.
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