Senegalese people living abroad will be able to run for office in their home country for the first time in July’s elections after MPs voted to increase the number of seats in parliament.

The national assembly will add 15 seats for members of the country’s diaspora, bringing the total to 165.

There are hundreds of thousands of Senegalese expatriates who support families back home with remittances.

The new MPs will have to return to Senegal to serve their five-year terms.

The opposition has criticised the move, describing it as a waste of money.

“This measure is absurd,” Amar Sarr, an MP from the main opposition Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS) told the BBC.

Across French-speaking West Africa, expatriates are often given a say in national politics through the foreign ministry, but rarely through direct parliamentary representation.

Opposition MPs unsuccessfully argued for keeping the size of the National Assembly at its current level of 150 MPs.

They have said they will appeal the bill at the Constitutional Court.