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Former Senegalese Prime Minister Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare in police custody

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An ex-prime minister of Senegal has spent his first night in custody.

Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare was first detained on Thursday (Mar. 9) after his summons were made public earlier this week.

The elderly man had questioned President Macky Sall about whether or not he had supported an anonymous French politician.

An alleged $12 million donation to a French politician from a party that is known for, quote, “hatred and rejection of others” was mentioned in the open letter that was published last weekend.

In a statement released on Tuesday (Mar. 7), the Senegalese government refuted claims that it had given money to Marine Le Pen, who had visited Sall in Dakar on January 18.

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It stated that it “rejects and strongly condemns” these “cowardly and unfounded insinuations,” which it called.

Soumare served as the former president Abdoulaye Wade’s budget minister from 2007 to 2009 before becoming prime minister.

According to Mame Adama Gueye, a defense attorney, “we have just been informed that (Soumare) has been placed in custody” following his questioning by the police “at the request of the public prosecutor” on Thursday.

The 2022 presidential election saw Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s National Rally party, come in second.

In the lead-up to the election in February 2024, civil liberties in Senegal, according to rights advocates and Sall’s detractors, are under attack.

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The government disputes any reversal and maintains that Senegal’s legal system is fair in its application.

Sall, who was elected in 2012 and again in 2019, hasn’t declared or ruled out the possibility of circumventing the law and seeking reelection to the presidency in 2024.

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