Imprisoned Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Endorses Bassirou Diomaye Faye as Replacement

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
Ousmane Sonko

In an undated video, incarcerated opposition figure Ousmane Sonko has officially designated his deputy, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, as his replacement for the upcoming Senegalese presidential election on February 25.

Removing any ambiguity, Ousmane Sonko, the opposition leader, confirms the selection of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as his stand-in for the forthcoming presidential election in Senegal on February 25. In a pre-recorded video released on his Facebook page and opposition-affiliated media outlets on January 28, 2024, Sonko made this announcement, marking his second public statement since his arrest on July 28.

This video, like the first, is said to have been recorded while Ousmane Sonko was still under house arrest in July, according to a member of his party, the ex-Patriotes africains du Sénégal pour le travail, l’éthique et la fraternité (Pastef). El Malick Ndiaye, the spokesperson for Pastef, explains that various scenarios, including this one, were considered during the planning.

The video features Sonko in traditional attire, with his official portrait in hologram form behind him, outlining his strategy in Wolof for 44 minutes. Notably, he reiterates the confirmation of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as the substitute candidate.

Describing Faye as his “little brother,” Sonko asserts, “Bassirou is more honest than me” and is “extremely brilliant.” He concludes by stating, “I entrust the project into his hands.”

In the 44-minute video, Ousmane Sonko also calls for the release of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, citing the principle of equality among candidates. The central question now revolves around whether Faye, in pretrial detention since April on charges including incitement to insurrection, can be released to campaign.

Legal experts argue that the serious crimes he is accused of, including acts compromising public peace and incitement to insurrection, may preclude provisional release. However, some point to Article 32 of the Constitution, guaranteeing “equality of candidates for the use of propaganda means,” suggesting that Faye should have the right to campaign freely if he applies for provisional release. As of now, no such request has been made.

For the time being, Ousmane Sonko calls on other presidential contenders who are political partners of his party, such as Habib Sy and Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, to remain candidates, aiming to increase airtime in support of the former Pastef candidate. The unfolding dynamics of this presidential race in Senegal add layers of complexity to an already charged political atmosphere.

Soukaina Sghir

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