Former Senegalese Prime minister Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare has spent his first night into custody after his arrest for questioning President Macky Sall if he had financed right wing French politician Le Pen.
The septuagenarian in open letter published last weekend, mentioned an alleged donation of 12 million Euros to a French politician whose party is renowned for in quotes ” hatred and rejection of others”.
The Senegalese government, in a statement on March 7, denied donating money to Marine Le Pen who visited Sall in Dakar on January 18.
The letter said it “rejects and strongly condemns such insinuations” which it described as “cowardly and unfounded”.
“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 local media 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. A claim the government refutes while insisting the law is applied fairly in Senegal.
Soumare, was a budget minister and then prime minister of Senegal from 2007 to 2009 under former president Abdoulaye Wade.
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.