SenegalOne of the big questions of the presidential campaign is the possibility of regrouping during Ramadan, and the situation of one of the most important opposition candidates, still imprisoned. Here, supporters of one of Senegal's opposition presidential candidates during a demonstration in Dakar, February 24, 2024.© John Wessels / AFP

After more than a month of uncertainty in Senegal, following President Macky Sall’s postponement of the presidential election, the voting date has been set for March 24. But as the electoral campaign kicks off this Friday night, a number of questions remain unanswered, including how to campaign during Ramadan.

The official start of an extremely short campaign in Senegal: twelve days instead of the 21 stipulated by electoral law. Since Thursday March 7, all 19 candidates have been in battle mode, reorganizing their campaigns and making adjustments.

This is made all the more difficult by the fact that Ramadan is due to start on Monday March 11, making it impossible to plan large campaign rallies with music and food. So, as one candidate explained, rallies will be held at the end of the day, after the fast is broken.

Senegal is facing an unprecedented situation, reflecting the crisis the country has been experiencing since the postponement of the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25.

On Friday March 8, the candidates were all summoned to RTS, the public television channel, to record their three-minute campaign clips. These videos will be broadcast from Sunday March 10.

Another unprecedented fact is that one of the presidential candidates is still in prison as the election campaign gets underway. The situation of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, candidate for the dissolved Pastef party, is the other big unknown at the moment: will he be released to campaign? Will he be able to record a campaign video like the other presidential contenders?

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who has been in pre-trial detention for almost a year, was arrested for contempt of court following a Facebook post. But this substitute candidate for Ousmane Sonko, who is also in prison but has been ruled out of the presidential race, could benefit from the amnesty law passed last Wednesday by the National Assembly. For the time being, no indication has been given as to when this release might take place.

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