Senegal heads into a presidential election unlike any other

Senegal's presidential election campaign officially kicks off on Sunday. With the incumbent out of the running and a broader than ever field, the vote later this month promises to be the country's most competitive yet.

No clear frontrunner has emerged ahead of the 25 February vote, with an unprecedented 20 candidates bidding to become Senegal's next president.

Fears of pre-election violence have not materialised. But tensions are high following a turbulent candidate validation process and the disqualification of prominent opposition figures Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade.

Analysts agree that none of the hopefuls are guaranteed a place in the second round, and that the race could be tight.

Open field

Prime Minister Amadou Ba was chosen by President Macky Sall as his successor after Sall announced in July that he would not seek a third term.

It is Senegal's first election without an incumbent standing.

The vote is "the most open election" since Senegal gained independence from France in 1960, the deputy editor of Le Soleil newspaper, Sidy Diop, told the French news agency AFP.

But the presidential camp is confident. Speaking to RFI and France 24, Ba said: "I think I'll be elected in the first round on 25 February."

Both are still in prison, and Faye might have to campaign from behind bars.

Read more on RFI English

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