Friday , June 14 2024

Senegal Opposition Leaders Regain Freedom Ahead of Presidential Election

Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and the presidential candidate he is backing in this month’s delayed election, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, have been released from prison.

The two met hundreds of their jubilant supporters in the capital, Dakar, after their release late on Thursday.

Their release followed an amnesty announced by President Macky Sall.

The elections are due to be held on 24 March after a failed bid to push them to December.

“It’s the most beautiful day of my life,” a supporter told newsmen.

Mr Faye, 44, is one of the 19 candidates contesting the elections and is expected to start campaigning this Friday. He is vying through the Diomaye President coalition party.

Yacine Fall, vice-president of Mr Sonko’s disbanded Pastef party which is now supporting Mr Faye, said: “We are very pleased with their release”.

“They should have never gone to jail, but now, with Ousmane Sonko’s release and our candidate, Bachirou Diomaye Faye, we will be able to campaign, and we are sure we will win this.”

Despite spending months in prison, Mr Faye is seen as one of the favourites in this month’s election.

Mr Sonko, 49, was at the forefront of the campaign against President Sall, but he was jailed in July last year on what he described as trumped-up charges aimed at barring him from running for president.

Despite the amnesty, the list of candidates remains unchanged, meaning Mr Sonko will not be contesting in the elections.

The firebrand opposition politician is particularly popular among young, unemployed Senegalese for promising radical reforms.

He came in third in the 2019 presidential election with 15% of the vote.

In early 2023, he founded the Pastef-Les Patriotes party but it was dissolved by the government a few months later over allegations that Mr Sonko and the party had called for an insurrection.

Mr Sonko’s critics have accused his movement of stoking division and tension.

Senegal was originally scheduled to hold elections on February 25 but the poll was postponed to March 24 after a court ruling barred President Sall from pushing it to December.

Senegal is seen as one of West Africa’s most stable countries but the various court cases against Mr Sonko and then the postponement of the elections sparked violent protests and widespread social unrest in recent months.

Check Also

Emirship Tussle: Kano Bans Public Demonstrations

Governorship Abba Yusuf of Kano State has banned all forms of public gatherings intended for …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *