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Senegal: Opposition politician Sonko declared presidential candidate by his party

The opponent Ousmane Sonko, mayor of Ziguinchor, attends a rally of the Senegalese opposition at the Place de l'Obelisque in Dakar, on June 8, 2022.   -  
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SEYLLOU/AFP or licensors


Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko has been nominated as a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, his party announced on Friday, despite Mr. Sonko's uncertain eligibility and shortly after the banning of a rally scheduled for Saturday in Dakar to make his candidacy official.

Mr. Sonko was sentenced on June 1 to two years' imprisonment in a vice case, a verdict which, according to his lawyers and legal experts, renders him ineligible. He was also given a six-month suspended prison sentence on May 8 in an appeal for defamation, a sentence widely perceived as rendering him ineligible for the presidential elections. But he has not yet exhausted his appeals to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Sonko is due to speak on Friday, according to his party. He has been blocked by security forces at his home in Dakar, "sequestered" according to him, since May 28.

"This Thursday, July 13, 2023, at the end of a transparent and democratic investiture process, Ousmane Sonko, enjoying his full civil and political rights, is unanimously designated candidate of PASTEF-Les Patriotes (his party) for the presidential election of February 25, 2024," his party said in a statement sent to AFP on Friday.

Mr. Sonko's investiture took place on Thursday at a meeting of the party's High Regulatory Authority (HARP), a Pastef body, which validated the decisions reached by delegates from Senegal's 46 departments and the diaspora, the statement said.

Pastef denounces in this text the "illegal ban" on its candidate's meeting scheduled for Saturday afternoon in a stadium in Guédiawaye, on the outskirts of Dakar. In a press release issued on Thursday, the Dakar government announced that the rally had been banned because of the "risk of disturbing public order".

"No one can prevent the investiture of President Ousmane Sonko as well as his participation in the presidential election of February 25, 2024", said the Pastef communiqué.

On July 6, Sonko promised "indescribable chaos" if he is prevented from standing as a presidential candidate, in an interview on the France 24 channel. In early June, his conviction sparked the most serious unrest in years in Senegal, which left 16 people dead according to the authorities, and around thirty according to the opposition.

President Macky Sall, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, announced in early July that he would not stand for the 2024 presidential election.

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