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Macky Sall cherry-picks his party's opponents

Multiple contenders will vie for the presidency next year but leading oppositionist Sonko will be shut out

Outgoing President Macky Sall has given the clearest indication that his successor will face a genuine election contest next year – but his leading opponent will be barred from standing (AC Vol 64 No 14, No last stand).

Legislation passed last week with the support of  President Sall's Benno Bokk Yaakar (BBY) party provides that any person who has been convicted but then receives a pardon or amnesty can run for office.

The amendment passed with a 124 to 1 vote majority. Sall's supporters and BBY are taking the credit for the change. Interior Minister Antoine Félix Abdoulaye Diome told parliament that it was a product of the national dialogue initiated by Sall which led to the revision of the Constitution and the electoral code.

The move clears the way for former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, to stand. Khalifa Sall and Wade were prevented from running in the 2019 elections because of convictions for misuse of municipal funds and an unpaid fine respectively (AC Vol 60 No 4, Macky wants first round KO).

However, fellow opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, convicted earlier this year of 'corrupting the morals' of a 20-year old masseuse in what his supporters dismiss as a politically-motivated law suit triggered violent protests this year. Sonko's conviction meant that he would be excluded from the polls (AC Vol 64 No 12, Street hits back for Sonko).

Now is currently being detained on accusations of having fomented insurrection and promoted violence. This month his Les patriotes du Sénégal pour le travail, l'éthique et la fraternité party was banned by the government. On 6 August, his lawyers reported that Sonko had been hospitalised following a hunger strike.

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