One of the leaders of the Senegalese opposition, Ousmane Sonko, refrained from appearing before a Dakar court on Thursday for a defamation trial on which his presidential candidacy in 2024 could depend, noted a journalist from the AFP.
Mr. Sonko's lawyers told the court that their client had not received a summons, an argument contradicted by the prosecution and the advice of the plaintiff, a minister.
The defence also requested a postponement of the trial to deepen the case. The trial has been postponed to February 16.
Images broadcast by Mr Sonko's television, Jotna, showed him playing ball, surrounded by his bodyguards, in a street near his home, in a district of Dakar squared by the police.
For two years, Mr Sonko, third in the presidential election of 2019 and candidate for that of next year, has been a regular in-court summons.
They have systematically mobilized a large police force since the questioning of Mr Sonko in a case of alleged rape in March 2021 caused the most serious riots in the country for years.
Mr. Sonko shouts at the plot intended to dismiss him from the presidential election and the instrumentalization of justice by the power of President Macky Sall, which the latter refutes.
Justice ordered in January the dismissal of Mr Sonko in front of a court for alleged rapes. No trial date is known.
This case is a source of constant tension. But attention has recently turned to another, for defamation, and its possible consequences on Mr Sonko's candidacy.
The texts provide for removal from the electoral lists, and therefore ineligibility, in a certain number of cases of conviction.
Mr Sonko is being sued by Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, also a presidential party official, for "defamation, insults and forgery".
The minister, present at the hearing on Thursday, accuses him of having declared in December that his management had been "pinned" in a report by a control institution on the Program for the Development of Community Agricultural Domains (Prodac), which 'he denies.
Mr. Niang was 2014 to 2019 the head of the Ministry of Youth and Employment and had under his supervision the Prodac set up by President Sall to promote youth employment in rural areas.