Senegal court boost for opposition leader's election bid


A court in Senegal has ordered that jailed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko be reinstated on the electoral register, paving the way for him to run in February’s presidential election.

Sonko has faced several court cases on various charges in recent years, all of which he denies.

In June, he was cleared of rape but convicted of “corrupting the youth” and struck off the electoral roll.

He says he is the victim of a campaign to prevent him standing for president.

Candidates must be on the voters’ roll in order to stand.

A government lawyer said it would appeal against the ruling.

His repeated arrests over the past two years have sparked several bouts of deadly unrest in one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

Jubilant supporters welcomed the verdict in court, reports the AFP news agency.

He has until 26 December to register his candidacy for the election.

After his most recent arrest, on charges of insurrection in July, the authorities dissolved his party, known as Pastef.

The previous month, Sonko, 49, was convicted after being accused of sexually assaulting and threatening a massage therapist at a beauty salon in 2021. She was 20 when she made the accusations, which he denied.

Sonko, who is popular among Senegal’s large population of unemployed youth, has undergone a meteoric political rise in the last few years.

After his dismissal as a tax inspector in 2016, he was elected to parliament and became mayor of the southern city of Ziguinchor.

He ran in the 2019 presidential elections, coming third.

President Macky Sall has said he will not stand for re-election, following speculation that he would seek an unconstitutional third term.

When Sonko was arrested in 2021 for disrupting public order, clashes left at least a dozen people dead.



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