Senegal's top opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was convicted on Thursday for defamation and insults against the Minister of Tourism.
Sonko's lawyer claims there is a political agenda behind the court's decision.
"I have said that 'politics' is in the courthouse and that it is losing its right (rule of law) and its understanding. But even if the defendant is not defended, the court has the obligation to judge serenely and to see if it does not have reasons and means to dismiss or cancel the proceedings, but they did not worry about that. In fact, it is a political agenda" claimed Ciré Clédor Ly, lawyer of opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.
In addition to a two-month suspended sentence, Sonko will also have to pay about $330,000 to the Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang.
Speaking to the press after the hearing Niang's lawyer was happy with the verdict.
"It is a verdict that consecrates the victory of Mame Mbaye Niang. Ousmane Sonko fled the debate today, behaved like a patron, because he has no elements, he has no arguments, he has no evidence to provide to the court", said El-hadji Diouf, lawyer of Senegal's minister of tourism, Mame Mbaye Niang.
Sonko’s supporters see the charges against him as the latest attempt to cut short his political career, including his likely presidential candidacy in 2024.
Sonko finished third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and has called on President Macky Sall to declare publicly that he won’t seek a third term.