Ruling might jeopardise well-liked politician’s probabilities of operating in February’s presidential elections.
Senegal’s Supreme Court docket has dominated in opposition to opposition politician Ousmane Sonko’s attraction in his defamation conviction, a choice that places his probabilities of operating in presidential elections in danger.
“The sentence and fines have been confirmed. Sonko misplaced on all counts,” state lawyer El Hadji Diouf mentioned on Friday after the choose dominated to uphold the six-month suspended sentence following a greater than 12-hour listening to.
He added that Sonko was “now completely banned from collaborating in an election”. The 49-year-old had filed his candidacy papers final month, whereas in custody, to compete within the February 25 elections.
Sonko has been in jail since July after his arrest on insurrection prices, when he was additionally struck off the nation’s electoral rolls.
He has confronted a number of courtroom circumstances over the previous two years for prices together with libel and rape, which he denies. The circumstances in opposition to him have triggered lethal violence within the West African nation.
After deliberations that prolonged from Thursday into the early hours of Friday, the courtroom rejected Sonko’s attraction in opposition to the Might conviction. Based on Senegalese regulation, Sonko can not compete within the presidential race whereas such a conviction is upheld.
His authorized workforce, nevertheless, mentioned the setback was not closing. “The combat will proceed,” his lawyer Cire Cledor Ly informed reporters exterior the courtroom constructing within the capital, Dakar.
Sonko’s authorized troubles started when he was accused of rape in 2021, sparking lethal unrest throughout the nation that has since flared up sporadically over numerous courtroom selections.
He denies any wrongdoing and says all prices in opposition to him are politically motivated. The federal government, which accuses Sonko of stoking violence, dissolved his Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF) celebration in July.
“Nobody doubts the political facet of this affair which goals to get rid of the chief of the opposition,” mentioned PASTEF spokesperson El Malick Ndiaye on the most recent ruling. “Sonko nonetheless stays within the race,” he mentioned on nationwide radio.
Sonko positioned third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is well-liked with the nation’s youth. His supporters keep the fees in opposition to him are a part of a authorities effort to derail his candidacy on this 12 months’s polls.
He’s seen as a most important opposition challenger within the race to succeed President Macky Sall, who introduced in July that he would not seek a controversial third mandate following months of ambiguity and hypothesis about his intentions.
In December, a courtroom within the southern metropolis of Zinguichor, the place Sonko is mayor, ordered that he be reinstated on the electoral register.
The electoral fee is reviewing purposes and is scheduled to publish a closing listing of cleared presidential candidates by January 20.