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Who are the main candidates in Senegal’s presidential election?

SENEGAL heads to the polls on March 24 to choose a successor to President Macky Sall who is not seeking a third term.

For the first time in the West African nation’s history, the incumbent is not on the ballot. His hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, who was relieved of his duties on Wednesday ahead of the campaigning, is among 19 candidates cleared by Senegal’s constitutional council to run.

To avoid a runoff, a candidate must secure over 50% of the vote. Campaigning is likely to start in the coming days.

Following are the profiles of the main contenders:

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PRIME MINISTER AMADOU BA

A former economy and foreign minister, Ba, 62, was named prime minister in September 2022. He ran the taxation directorate before launching his political career.

Sall picked Ba as the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition’s candidate after a party-wide consultation process. Sall said at the time that Ba would be a unifying figure.

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But analysts say there are divisions within BBY, which lost key cities in the 2022 local elections and a number of seats in the 2023 legislative election. Some members worry that Ba has never contested a presidential election while most of his main opponents have.

EX-DAKAR MAYOR KHALIFA ABABACAR SALL

Sall, 68, unrelated to the president, served as mayor of the capital Dakar from 2009 to 2018.

One of President Sall’s chief political rivals, he was arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of embezzling about $3 million in public funds. In 2018, he was sentenced to five years in jail, preventing him from contesting the February 2019 presidential election.

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President Sall pardoned him in September that year.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER IDRISSA SECK

Veteran politician Idrissa Seck, 64, served as prime minister from 2002 to 2004 in the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) under former President Abdoulaye Wade.

He was sacked over embezzlement allegations and spent some months in jail before his case was dismissed. In 2006, he founded his own party and challenged Wade in 2007, finishing second. He ran again in 2012 but did not make it to the second round.

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By The African Mirror

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