Senegal’s top opposition leader released from prison as elections approach

Top of Senegal leader of the oppositionOusmane Sonko was released from prison late Thursday ahead of the country’s presidential election scheduled for March 24, his lawyer said.

Sonko’s lawyer, Bamba Cisse, told reporters that both Sonko and his key ally, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, had been released from prison Associated Press.

Supporters gathered at Sonko’s home and elsewhere in the capital, Dakar, to celebrate his release. Drivers honked their horns in celebration.

It’s unclear how their release will affect the election.

Senegal sets March 24 election date after controversial postponement

Sonko has been in jail since July and has fought a protracted legal battle to run for president in the upcoming election. Faye was appointed as the opposition’s electoral candidate after Sonko was banned from running.

Sonko finished third in the country’s 2019 presidential election and is widely seen as the main challenger to President Macky Sall’s ruling party. After months of sometimes deadly protests by Sonko’s supporters, Sall himself ultimately decided not to seek a third term.

FILE – Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko speaks to reporters after being released from police detention in Dakar, Senegal, March 8, 2021.
(AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, File)

The protests have shaken Senegal’s image as a pillar of stability in West Africa, which has seen dozens of coups and attempted coups in recent decades.

Sonko’s presidential campaign faces a protracted legal battle that began when he was accused of rape in 2021. He was later acquitted. Rape allegation But he was sentenced to two years in prison last summer for corrupting teenagers, sparking deadly protests across the country.

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Senegal’s top electoral body, the Constitutional Council, said in January that Sonko was disqualified from voting because he faced a six-month suspended sentence after being convicted of defamation.

His supporters insist his legal troubles are part of the government’s attempt to undermine his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.

Sa’ar ordered the pardon of political prisoners, including hundreds arrested during violent protests last year, and was later released.

Senegal’s presidential candidate kicked off his campaign on Saturday after weeks of violent protests in the African country over delayed voting.

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Last month, Sall tried to postpone the election, which was originally scheduled for February 25, just weeks away. His announcement that the vote would be held in 10 months has plunged Senegal into uncertainty and once again drew protesters to the streets. But the Constitutional Council rejected Saar’s postponement and ordered the government to set a new date as soon as possible.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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