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Former Senegalese PM Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare in police custody

Senegalese Prime minister Sheikh Hadjibou Soumare speaks 17 September 2007 at the national assembly during a presentation of his general policy.   -  
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A former Senegalese Prime minister has spent his first night into custody.

After the summon of Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare was made public earlier this week, he was first questioned by the police Thursday (Mar. 9); then kept.

The septuagenarian had asked President Macky Sall whether he had financed an unamed French political figure.

The open letter published last weekend, mentioned an alleged donation of some $12 million to a French politician whose party is renowned for in quotes " hatred and rejection of others".

The Senegalese government, in a statement on Tuesday (Mar. 7), denied donating money to Marine Le Pen who visited Sall in Dakar on January 18.

It said it "rejects and strongly condemns such insinuations" which it described as "cowardly and unfounded".

Soumare, was a budget minister and then prime minister from 2007 to 2009 under former president Abdoulaye Wade.

"We have just been notified that (Soumare) has been placed in custody" after his interrogation by the police "at the request of the public prosecutor", Mame Adama Gueye, a defence lawyer, told reporters on Thursday.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National Rally party was the runner up in the 2022 presidential race.

Rights defenders and Sall's opponents say civil liberties in Senegal are coming under pressure in the run-up to the February 2024 election.

The government refutes that there has been any regression and says the law is applied fairly in Senegal.

Sall, who was elected in 2012 and again in 2019, has not confirmed or denied whether he intends to override the constitution and run for a third presidential term in 2024.

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