He had stopped eating two days after his arrest. Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko, detained since the end of July on various charges including calling for an insurrection, “suspended” on Saturday his hunger strike started for more than a month but his participation in the presidential election of 2024 remains compromised by a conviction in a sex scandal.
Ousmane Sonko, whose the balance of power with power and justice has been keeping Senegal in suspense for more than two years, announced that he had started his hunger strike on July 30, two days after his arrest followed by his indictment and his detention on August 1 in Sébikotane, near Dakar where he had then transferred on August 6 to a hospital.
Presidential candidate in February 2024, Ousmane Sonko, 49, third in the 2019 presidential election, accuses President Macky Sall, who denies it, of wanting to exclude him from the ballot through legal proceedings. Elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, Macky Sall announced in early July do not represent.
“He was never suicidal”
Several appeals, particularly from very influential religious leaders in Senegal, predominantly Muslim countrywhere they often carry out political mediations, have been launched in recent days to get the opponent Sonko to stop his hunger strike.
Ciré Clédor Ly, one of his lawyers cited “two reasons” explaining his client’s decision. “He could not remain insensitive to the call of millions of people who are relieved by this suspension”. In addition, “he was never suicidal, he must not exhaust his vital organs. It was therefore indicated that he suspend” his hunger strike, said Me Ly.
Ousmane Sonko’s lawyers had issued several alerts on the deterioration, according to them, of his state of health. In a press release sent Friday evening, they affirmed that the life of their client, “Admitted to intensive care” since August 17, was “In danger” and invited the State “To urgently take all necessary measures to avoid a tragedy”. The Senegalese authorities had questioned this hunger strike.
Ousmane Sonko was convicted on June 1 of underage debauchery and sentenced to two years in prison. Having refused to appear at the trial, which he denounced as a plot to exclude him from the presidential election, he was convicted in absentia. He has since been imprisoned at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal ociation in connection with a terrorist enterprise and undermining state security. The authorities question his responsibility in a series of episodes of protest to which his standoff with power and his disputes with the justice have given rise since 2021 – worst in june – and which caused several deaths.
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In an online interview published Wednesday by the magazine Jeune Afrique, the Minister of Justice Ismaila Madior Fall affirmed that the opponent’s conviction in the morality case was “final”, which makes him ineligible for the 2024 presidential election.
Ousmane Sonko was also sentenced on appeal to a six-month suspended prison sentence in May for defamation against a minister, a case in which he has not exhausted his appeals. Several hundred of his activists and sympathizers are in prison, according to his party.