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In Senegal, a new obstacle to Ousmane Sonko’s presidential candidacy

In front of an audience frozen in suspense, the president of the Supreme Court of Senegal, Aly Ciré Ba, announced, Friday, November 17, in a solemn tone that the highest judicial body in the country “cass(has) and cancel(has) the decision of the Ziguinchor court of October 12. This previous judgment reversed the removal from the electoral lists of the opponent Ousmane Sonko and gave the latter a chance to relaunch in the presidential race in February 2024.

Read also: In Senegal, justice revives Ousmane Sonko in the presidential race

By repealing it, the Supreme Court did not question the competence of the Ziguinchor judge but considered that he had committed an error of law in his judgment: according to the court, Ousmane Sonko was indeed notified and informed of the procedure for removing him from the electoral register, contrary to what the Casamance magistrate had considered. Aly Ciré Ba therefore decided to refer the case to the Dakar High Court for a retrial on the merits.

The standoff between Ousmane Sonko and the Senegalese state has kept Senegal in suspense for two and a half years. The opponent, with his sovereignist and pan-Africanist discourse, is very popular with young people, sensitive to his diatribes against “the state mafia”multinationals and the economic and political influence exercised according to him by the former French colonial power.

“We are disappointed with Senegalese justice”

In detention since the end of July, the leader of the African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (Pastef), a party dissolved on July 31, was removed from the electoral register after his conviction in June, to two years in prison for “corruption of youth” in a case where he was accused of rape. A measure which legally prevents him from running in the presidential election.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Senegal, anger after the conviction of opponent Ousmane Sonko

By deciding, against the advice of the Attorney General, to overturn the judgment of the Ziguinchor court, the President of the Supreme Court agreed with the state agents, after a long, very technical deliberation. Justifications received coldly by the Pastef activists present in the room, dressed in t-shirts bearing the image of their leader. “That’s not possible!” »exclaimed Moussa Dramé, an elected official from the opponent’s party, leaving the hearing. “We have no more hope. We are frustrated and disappointed with Senegalese justice. Democracy is under threat”he commented.

After multiple legal twists and turns, the participation or not of Ousmane Sonko in the presidential election of February 2024 is therefore still not decided. Ayib Daffé, acting as Ousmane Sonko’s agent, failed to obtain the sponsorship forms necessary to collect support and submit a candidacy file. Gold “the sponsorship campaign ends in a few weeks and until then, the court (from Dakar) will not have time to judge”worries Me Bamba Cissé, one of the opponent’s lawyers.

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