Senegal: On a symbolic visit to Dakar, Senegalese President Sonko greets Hard-Left MélenchonSenegal: On a symbolic visit to Dakar, Senegalese President Sonko greets Hard-Left Mélenchon

May 17, 2024 | Politics | 0 comments

French leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon embarks on a four-day journey to Senegal, marking the first visit by a French political figure to the new government led by Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko.

Mélenchon’s presence in Senegal carries significant symbolism, occurring six weeks after Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s victory in the presidential elections. Both Sonko and Faye, formerly imprisoned under former Senegalese leader Macky Sall, led their Pastef party to a sweeping triumph in April following their release.

Mélenchon’s France Unbowed party staunchly supported the Pastef leaders during their opposition days—an allegiance highlighted by Sonko upon Mélenchon’s arrival. “The France Unbowed movement has shown unwavering support, driven solely by the defense of freedom, shared values, democracy, and justice. Thank you, Mr. Mélenchon,” remarked Sonko.

The encounter between the two leaders provided Mélenchon with an opportunity to commend Senegal’s democratic transition. “Sonko holds a distinctive position on the African continent. All of Africa is observing you,” Mélenchon declared in Dakar. “The Senegalese people, like all Africans, aspire to control their destiny, and through their actions, they have democratically shaped their future through voting.”

Mélenchon’s visit, extended to Saturday upon Pastef’s invitation, is interpreted by Le Monde Afrique as part of his broader African engagement strategy. The French politician’s support for Faye and Sonko, including a video conference in April 2023 prior to Faye’s imprisonment, underscores his divergent stance from the French government on African affairs.

Sonko, who was barred from contesting Senegal’s election and was replaced by Faye, expressed gratitude to France Unbowed for their consistent backing during the persecution faced by their party. While praising the conduct of Senegal’s presidential election, Mélenchon also lent support to the “sovereign aspirations” evident in various African nations, including Sahel states experiencing military coups.

With Pastef indicating Sonko’s future visits to Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, speculations arise regarding potential “parallel” diplomacy in Senegal shared between Faye and Sonko.

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