Senegal's Sonko welcomes hard-left Mélenchon in symbolic visit to Dakar

French hard left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon is on a four-day visit to Senegal, where he became the first French political figure to be received by the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko.

Mélenchon's visit to Senegal is largely seen as symbolic, coming six weeks after Bassirou Diomaye Faye won the presidency.

Both Sonko and Faye had been imprisoned by under former Senegalese leader Macky Sall. They took their Pastef party to a landslide victory in April after regaining their freedom.

Mélenchon's France Unbowed party was a staunch supporter of the Pastef leaders when the party was in opposition – something Sonko was keen to point out.

"The France Unbowed movement has been very visible and everyone has been able to see the extent to which its support has been constant, with no ulterior motives," he said when Mélenchon arrived on Wednesday.

“In the name of defending freedom, the values we share, democracy, but also quite simply justice. Thank you, Mr Mélenchon."

The first physical meeting between the two was also an opportunity for Mélenchon to praise Senegal and its democratic transition.

“Sonko occupies a special place on the African continent. The whole of Africa is watching you," Mélenchon said in Dakar.

“The Senegalese people – like all the other peoples of Africa – want to control their future and by taking action they have succeeded in doing so democratically by voting."

'Seduction of Africa'

Mélenchon and his delegation are in Senegal until Saturday on invitation from Pastef following France Unbowed's numerous declarations of support during the opposition’s three-year tug-of-war with the former government.


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