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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 18:01 GMT
Senegal's presidential contenders
By Mame Less Camara
BBC News, Dakar

As Senegal prepares to vote in presidential elections on Sunday, we present some of the principal candidates amongst the 15 in the running.

ABDOULAYE WADE, 81

Abdoulaye Wade

A lawyer and candidate of the Sopi Coalition 2007, the outgoing president is the oldest candidate and a veteran of Senegalese politics. His first participation in elections goes back to 1978 against the late President Leopold Sedar Senghor. He was defeated a first time and another three times by Abdou Diouf, Senghor's successor (in 1983, 1988 and 1993). He finally triumphed in 2000 at the head of a powerful coalition. As he seeks a second mandate, Mr Wade continues to promote Sopi (which means "change" in Wolof) as the head of the Senagalese Democratic Party he created in 1974.

OUSMANE TANOR DIENG, 60

Ousmane Tanor Dieng

A diplomat and candidate for the Socialist Party, he was a close aide and the campaign director of former head of state Abdou Diouf in the presidential elections of 1993 and 2000. His status as anointed heir boosted by his nomination to the post of first secretary of the Socialist Party caused the departures of high-profile figures such as Djibo Ka and later Moustapha Niasse. These defections had a large role to play in the defeat of Abdou Diouf in the presidential election of 2000. Ousmane Tanor Dieng argues that the management of the state must be placed in expert hands.

MOUSTAPHA NIASSE, 68

Moustapha Niasse

A civil administrator and candidate of the Alternative Coalition 2007, he left the Socialist Party in 1999 to set up the Alliance for the Forces of Progress (AFP). He garnered 16.7% of the votes in the presidential election of 2000. His support is decisive to Abdoulaye Wade's victory in the second round. Mr Niasse was named prime minister, and later sacked after a year in the post, at which point he joined the opposition. Moustapha Niasse wants to facilitate the transition of power to the younger generation.

LANDING SAVANE, 62

Landing Savane

A statistical engineer and candidate of the And Defar Senegal (Build Senegal Together) Coalition, Mr Savane's party, And Jef (Act Together), remains part of the presidential coalition in which he has two ministers. Mr Savane himself has kept his responsibilities as minister-adviser to President Wade. Mr Savane, who unsuccessfully took part in the presidential elections of 1988 and 1993, is in favour of promoting economic recovery.

ROBERT SAGNA, 67

Robert Sagna

An agricultural engineer and candidate of the Takku Deferaat Senegaal (Engagement and Reconstruction of Senegal) Coalition, he was a minister for a straight 22 years under the regimes of President Senghor and Abdou Diouf (1978-2000), and for the last 20 years, a mayor of Ziguinchor, the main city in Casamance. He is an important proponent of attempts to bring back peace in this province, the scene of a separatist rebellion for more than two decades. Robert Sagna entered the presidential election despite the opposition of the Socialist Party of which he is still a member and which opted instead to nominate its secretary general Ousmane Tanor Dieng. The mayor of Ziguinchor severely criticised the record of President Wade's team which he judges "amateurish".

IDRISSA SECK, 47

Idrissa Seck

A businessman and consultant, and a candidate for the And Ligeey Sengaal (Building Senegal Together) Coalition, he is the former number two and Prime Minister of President Wade. He entered politics as Mr Wade's campaign director in the presidential elections of 1988, 1993 and 2000. He was disgraced in 2004 after being accused of embezzlement. He held in jail for seven months, but the case against him was dismissed, although he was excluded from the Senegalese Democratic Party. He remained a candidate despite his reconciliation with President Wade a few days ahead of the campaign start. Idrissa Seck wants to be at the forefront of genuine "Sopi" (change).

ABDOULAYE BATHILY, 60

Abdoulaye Bathily

A history professor and candidate for the Jubbanti Senegaal (Help Senegal Recover) Coalition, he teaches at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and since 1984 has been the head of the Democratic League/Movement for the Labour Party (LD/MPT), a group which almost never refers to its Marxist origins anymore. The League is a member of the coalition which brought President Wade to power in 2000. The split came in 2005 and Mr Bathily has publicly regretted being instrumental in President Wade's accession to power.

TALA SYLLA, 41

Talla Sylla

Candidate of the Jef Jel Alliance and elected to parliament in 2001, Mr Sylla quit to give up his place to his deputy in the party. He is notable for his recording of songs mocking President Wade. He escaped an assassination attempt, but the hammer blows he received from his aggressors left him severely wounded. His objective is to ensure President Wade's departure, but he also criticises those who were his allies in the past and fight him today.

ALIOUNE MBAYE, 40

Alioune Mbaye

Nicknamed "Small", Mr Mbaye is an accountant better known for promoting traditional wrestling matches. His nickname is common in Senegal and even in western Africa, and serves to distinguish him from his older brother, who is also his partner in organising wrestling matches. Mr Mbaye justified his taking part in the campaign out of a concern to wrestle power from the hands of traditional politicians, who, he says, are holding Senegal hostage.

MAME ADAMA GUEYE, 55

Mame Adama Gueye

A lawyer and founder of the Civil Forum, the Senegalese section of Transparency International, Mame Adama Gueye was until now known as a member of civil society and for his commitment to the fight against corruption. He left the management of this organisation a few years ago. His candidacy remains part of the fight for transparency in the management of public affairs and the recognition of citizens' rights.




SEE ALSO
Q&A: Senegal election
21 Feb 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Senegal
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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