Jailed Senegal opposition leader joins presidential race
26th December 2023
Jailed Senegalese opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, has submitted his candidacy to contest a February presidential election with the constitutional council despite the state’s refusal to provide him the necessary documents.
Sonko’s backup, Bassirou Faye, has also filed to run, Ousseynou Ly, an official in their dissolved party Pastef said Tuesday.
Like other candidates, Sonko had until December 26 to submit his candidacy and show he has collected enough signatures.
Last week, the national entity that runs elections in Senegal, did not provide Sonko’s representative with the documents needed to file. His lawyers then said they would file anyway, hoping the justice system would be more receptive.
“We are certain that his candidacy will be accepted and validated,” Said Larifou, one of his lawyers, said Friday during a press conference in Paris.
“The Constitutional Council is a judicial organ and not political.”
Sonko was condemned to two years in prison on June 1 on charges of corrupting minors. He refused to attend his trial and was tried in absentia.
The 49-year-old has been jailed since the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, conspiracy with terrorist groups, and endangering state security.
He has denied the charges, saying they are intended to prevent him from challenging President Macky Sall in the February 25 election.
In mid-December, a judge ordered that he be re-installed on the list of candidates, confirming a lower court order that had been overturned on first appeal.
Faye, who is also in prison, is the back-up candidate for the Pastef party, which authorities ordered in July to be dissolved.
Former prime minister Aminata Toure, once an ally of Sall but who has since joined the opposition, also said Monday she had filed to contest the presidential election.