Friday , June 14 2024

Jailed Senegalese Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Released

Amidst political turbulence, the spotlight now falls on Ousmane Sonko, the renowned Senegalese opposition figure.

After a tumultuous period of incarceration stemming from charges of corrupting youth and amid widespread protests, Sonko is set to be freed under a political amnesty.

His name will once again grace the roster of presidential hopefuls ahead of the impending 24 March election.

Sonko, aged 49, commands the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics, and Fraternity (PASTEF).

His imprisonment last year, albeit in absentia, stemmed from allegations involving the corruption of minors, with hints of statutory rape hovering in the background.

The sentencing triggered unprecedented demonstrations across Senegal, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 16 lives and the apprehension of hundreds of opposition sympathisers.

The administration of President Macky Sall responded with draconian measures, including widespread mobile internet blackouts.

In Sonko’s absence, PASTEF reluctantly turned to Bassirou Diomaye Faye as their interim leader. However, Faye’s bid for the presidency was swiftly derailed when he too faced disqualification due to a previous conviction for defamation, initially resulting in a mere two-month suspended sentence. This sanction was subsequently escalated to six months following a state-led appeal.

President Sall justified the amnesty as a measure to “calm the political storm,” offering Sonko a narrow window of opportunity to ready himself for the imminent electoral contest. With just under two weeks until polling day, all eyes are on Sonko as he prepares to re-enter the political arena amidst heightened anticipation and uncertainty.

In a notice, the government said: “The leader of PASTEF, the Patriots, Ousmane Sonko is finally rehabilitated on the electoral lists because the State of Senegal has withdrawn its appeal against the decision to rehabilitate Ousmane Sonko from the electoral lists.”

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