DAKAR — The political saga surrounding the detained Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko has taken a new twist, with a provincial judge appearing to reinstate him in next year’s presidential race.
A magistrate from a district court in the southern city of Ziguinchor on Thursday evening ordered that Sonko — who has had a series of legal woes since 2021, often leading to violent protests — be reinstated on the electoral lists for the February 2024 vote.
Authorities had removed his name from the lists, preventing him from contesting the election.
But the judge’s decision means Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election and would be a major candidate in next year’s race, will be able to contest, his lawyers said.
Sonko has been detained since late July after a months-long showdown with the government and the justice system.
“Sonko’s candidacy is a social requirement — it is a requirement of the Senegalese people — legally Ousmane Sonko must be a candidate,” Cire Cledor Ly, one of his lawyers, said in a statement following a marathon hearing punctuated by a power cut that forced the judge to work with a flashlight during the deliberations.
But the rare legal success for Sonko — who is also mayor of Ziguinchor — does not guarantee he will be able to run as a candidate. State lawyers have said they will appeal the matter to the Supreme Court.
The state had tried to have the judge, Sabassy Faye, recused because he is the brother of one of Sonko’s deputies in city hall.
Sonko has been engaged in a fierce tussle with the state for more than two years. He says authorities are trying to torpedo his political career.
The 49-year-old is popular among under-20s, who make up half the population.
He has portrayed President Macky Sall as a would-be dictator, while his detractors say he has sown instability.
Earlier this year, Sonko was convicted of defaming a minister.
On June 1, he was found guilty of morally corrupting a young woman and sentenced in absentia to two years in prison.
It sparked clashes that left 16 dead, according to the government, or as many as 30, according to his party.
In late July, Sonko was imprisoned on a fresh string of charges, including fomenting insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and undermining state security over incidents dating back to 2021.
The same day, the government announced that his political party would be dissolved.
The government’s rationale for Sonko’s removal from the electoral lists revolves around his June conviction.
His lawyers brought Sonko’s latest case to court in Ziguinchor because that is where he was registered.
Cledor Ly said the judge had shown “enormous courage,” adding that “Sonko does not know the judge, the judge does not know him.”
Senegal- Constitutional coup d’état just occurred. A few hours ago, @Macky_Sall announced on national television that he has postponed the forthcoming presidential election of February 25th until further notice. You see, from the beginning, this puppet leader wanted to do a third term, but when he realized that he will be met with fierce resistance from the people, he gave up that idea. So, he chose his own henchman who was to run to keep the country on France side. FYI, Macky Sall has tried repeatedly to kill @SonkoOfficiel the only candidate who has openly rejected the continuation of Françafrique. Sonko wants to abolish the CFA franc and demand the departure of the French military base in Dakar. Since then, France through their puppet Macky Sall has caused him all kinds of problems. He has collapsed many times in prison, and the constitutional council has rejected his candidacy and suspended his party. He has appealed to run for the presidency. Now, here we are, Macky Sall cancelled the election on his own will. Why? You see, some people don’t really know how nasty the Françafrique can be. The two strongholds of the françafrique in West Africa are Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal , and France is not willing to lose one of its remaining pillars in our region. Now, do you see why @CapitaineIb226 said that there are many putschists among @ecowas_cedeao? They kill their people who oppose them to remain in power, and ECOWAS doesn’t say nor do anything. Macky Sall killed some of the youth who protested against him, but ECOWAS didn’t do anything. But when it comes to the AES, we are the bad guys, because we decided that we will have nothing to do with France anymore. Macky Sall knows that if Sonko goes to the election, he will win because he has the popular support. This is why he postponed the election. Anyway, as Thomas Sankara used to say, “If we don’t fight to free ourselves, they will fight to keep us slaves for life.” So, I’m eager to see what the people of Senegal will do./Sy Marcus Herves Traore
Macky Premier, the new Senegalese monarch: “I will not be a candidate” But there will be no elections either! President Macky Sall made an about-face this evening, causing an outcry within the Senegalese political class and the international community. After having repeatedly sworn not to run for a controversial third term, Macky Sall repealed the decree setting the date of the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25, 2024. This spectacular turnaround destroys the promise of democratic change so cherished by the Senegalese people. By assuming the right to choose his successor and depriving the people of their choice, Macky Sall sows doubt about his real intentions. His excessive ambition to stay in power brings him dangerously close to the authoritarian excesses that Africa has fought so hard. Now we are waiting for the reaction of ECOWAS and the sanctions it could take in this situation. Indeed, the organization has already reacted firmly to coup d’état situations in the Sahel countries./AES
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