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EU election mission in Senegal asks to meet detained candidate

The EU mission deployed to observe Senegal’s February 25 presidential election on Wednesday (31 January) said it wanted to meet detained opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye, stating it was “very important” that he be able to campaign.

Faye has been in prison since 2023 but his candidacy was approved by authorities, making him the first imprisoned hopeful to run in a Senegalese election.

He is considered a possible contender for victory after he was put forward as a substitute candidate to replace imprisoned opposition firebrand Ousmane Sonko on the ballot.

Sonko, whose own bid was rejected by the Constitutional Council, has been at the centre of a bitter stand-off with the state that has lasted more than two years and sparked deadly unrest.

“Our aim is to see all the candidates who have been validated by the Constitutional Council, whatever their situation, and so we hope to be able to meet Mr Diomaye wherever possible,” head of the EU observation mission, Malin Bjork, told a Dakar press conference.

“We are in the process of taking the necessary steps,” she told reporters when asked whether the mission had made a formal request to the authorities.

How exactly Faye will run his campaign is yet to be seen, with the official campaigning period starting Sunday.

“I think it is very important that the candidates selected by the Constitutional Council should be able to campaign on an equal footing and we hope that this can be done,” said Bjork.

The observation mission will include more than 130 observers from the 27 EU member states, as well as Norway, Switzerland and Canada. It was deployed at the invitation of the Senegalese government, Bjork said.

The mission will assess the electoral process, including respect for fundamental freedoms, she added.

It will present initial observations two days after the first round and a final report a few weeks later.

Source: Eura Ctiv