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Prime Minister Ba is poll favourite after court rules out Ousmane Sonko

Fears of mass demonstrations after leading oppositionist excluded from next month's elections.

Confirmation that opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, will not be on the ballot for February's presidential elections came after the electoral commission announced the 20 candidates who have been approved to contest the first round on 25 February (AC Vol 65 No 1, Sonko's long walk to the ballot box).

Karim Wade, the son of former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, was also declared ineligible for the ballot. The commission said Wade had dual citizenship when he declared his presidential candidacy.

On social media site X (formerly Twitter), Wade vowed 'to take part in the election in one way or another'.

Earlier this month, Senegal's Constitutional Council said that Sonko's six-month suspended sentence following his conviction for defamation made him ineligible to stand in elections for five years.

Sonko's Pastef Les Patriotes called the move 'the most dangerous precedent in the political history of Senegal.'

Pastef will have a candidate in the elections after the nomination papers for its alternative candidate, general secretary, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a United States-based academic, were approved by the electoral commission. Yet there are doubts that Faye will be able to mobilise the youth vote who had flocked to Sonko.

The big winner from this is Prime Minister Amadou Ba, who has been anointed by President Macky Sall as his chosen successor and candidate for the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) party. Unlike his rivals, the technocrat Ba is untested on the campaign trail, and local pundits doubt that he or any other candidate will obtain the 50% vote share needed to win on the first ballot.

Alongside Faye, Ba's main rivals will include former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall. Having struck a deal with Macky Sall's government as part of last year's 'national dialogue' talks, Khalifa Sall has been allowed to stand despite a past conviction for financial misappropriation.

He is joined on the ballot by former prime minister Idrissa Seck, who has hired Bruce Fryer, a US advisor for the non-profit Vanguard Africa and Future Pact, a Washington DC lobby outfit (AC Vol 64 No 19,Seck seeks DC clout).

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