Senegal's Ex-Prime Minister In Custody After Criticism

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal's former prime minister has been taken into custody after he publicly suggested that the country's president had funded a French politician during a recent visit.

Cheikh Haguibou Soumare was detained Thursday but he has not been told the charges against him, his lawyer Adama Gueye told a press conference Thursday.

The government is accusing the ex-prime minister of trying to discredit President Macky Sall by publishing an open letter that suggested Sall gave money to French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen. Le Pen, a member of France's National Rally party, ran for the French presidency and lost last year and visited the West African country in January.

In an open letter published in local media last week, Soumare, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2009, accused Sall of giving 12 million euro from a “poor country” to a French politician. “If by any chance all of this were true, please enlighten the Senegalese people as to whether you acted as president of the Republic of Senegal or as a leader of a political party and with what money,” said the letter.

Sall's government strongly criticized the letter.

“The (Senegal) government firmly rejects and condemns such cowardly and baseless insinuations, which clearly demonstrate an evil desire to discredit the person of the president of the republic, to undermine the institution that he embodies and to harm relations between Senegal and a foreign power,” said Abdou Karim Fofana the government spokesman in a statement this week.