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FACT CHECK: Did Senegal’s president-elect criticise France in viral video?

FACT CHECK: Did Senegal’s president-elect criticise France in viral video?
March 26
22:25 2024

If you have been active on social media platforms in the last 48 hours, you may have watched a video purportedly showing Bassirou Diomaye Faye, Senegal’s president-elect, berating France.

The video — which has gone viral on social media in Nigeria and some other African countries — has been shared on TikTok, X(formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp.

“It is high time for France to lift its knees off our necks and put an end to this unjust oppression. Centuries of misery, human trafficking, colonialism, and neo-colonialism have caused immeasurable suffering. It is time to put an end to this cycle of oppression,” the speaker said in the video.

Many who shared the video expressed excitement that Faye, who is on course to become the youngest elected African president, is taking a tough stance against France.

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An X user, @von_Bismack, with over 100,000 followers posted the video on Tuesday afternoon. Since posting the clip, it has garnered 500 likes, 333 retweets, 32 comments, and over 20,000 views. The link has been archived here.

“It’s time for France to leave Africa alone”…Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Faye, the newly sworn-in president of Senegal. This simply shows France’s dwindling popularity in Africa,” the X user captioned the video.

On Facebook, O’Kay Adedayo posted the video with the caption: “Africa has woken up. May God protect the new Senegalese president. Nigeria is next in 2027. No more puppet regime for anybody. It’s time to start leapfrogging into the developed world economically.”

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On WhatsApp, the video has been shared in several groups and has been flagged as “forwarded many times”.

VERIFYING THE CLAIM

TheCable subjected keyframes in the viral video to reverse image search and observed that the clip was extracted from the speech delivered by Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s top opposition leader, at a press conference in July 2021, in Dakar, Senegal.

Sonko addressed his audience in French and not in English, as seen in the viral video.

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During the press conference, the opposition leader spoke against the proposed decision of the Senegalese government to adopt an anti-terrorism law.

He also criticised France for what he described as the inability of the European country to allow its former colonies to thrive.

Ousmane Sonko and Senegal's president-elect are members of the same political party

Ousmane Sonko and Senegal’s president-elect are members of the same political party

The press conference was live-streamed on the YouTube channel of Senegal 7, a local media outlet in the French-speaking country. Throughout the one-hour and thirty-minute press conference, Sonko spoke in French.

He also published the full transcript of the press conference on his X account. The transcript is also in French.

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TheCable also found that deepfake technology was used to alter Sonko’s voice in the clip to give the impression that he spoke in English.

Furthermore, it was discovered that the viral portion of the speech attributed to the Senegalese president-elect has been on YouTube since 2023.

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Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Faye

ARE SONKO AND FAYE CONNECTED?

Sonko is the leader of Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF), the political party that sponsored Faye for the presidential election.

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Many political analysts in Senegal believe that Faye is a protégé of Sonko. Both men were jailed in the build-up to the presidential election but were released weeks before the election.

Sonko was however barred from contesting the election by the country’s supreme court. In response, PASTEF put forward Faye as its standard bearer.

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VERDICT

The speaker in the viral video criticising France is not Faye, the Senegalese president-elect, but Sonko, the leader of PASTEF. The viral video is a manipulated version of a press conference held by Sonko in 2021.



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