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Senegal: Sonko on life support according to his lawyers and his party

Senegal: Sonko on life support according to his lawyers and his party
Ousmane Sonko   -  
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SEYLLOU/AFP or licensors


Lawyers for Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko and his dissolved party said on Thursday that he had been admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, even though he has been detained since late July and is waging a tug-of-war with the authorities and the judiciary.

Several government officials interviewed by AFP declined to confirm or deny that Mr. Sonko, a declared candidate in the 2024 presidential election, had been admitted to intensive care. He was jailed at the end of July on various charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise, and undermining state security.

Sonko, who claims to be the target of a plot to keep him out of the presidential election, went on hunger strike on July 30. The authorities questioned whether he was strictly observing the strike.

One of Mr. Sonko's lawyers, Me Ciré Clédor Ly, told AFP that he went to the intensive care unit of Dakar's main hospital on Thursday afternoon, where he obtained confirmation of his client's presence. He preferred not to approach him, but Mr. Sonko "has not recovered his senses since yesterday", he said.

Another of Mr. Sonko's lawyers, Me Bamba Cissé, also reported that he had been admitted to intensive care.

Mr. Sonko's Facebook page, which is still active, reports that he was "admitted to the intensive care unit of Dakar's main hospital following a fainting spell" on Wednesday evening.

Leaders of his party, Pastef, whose dissolution the authorities announced at the end of July, relayed the message on social networks.

Sonko, 49, has been hospitalized since August 6. His supporters and lawyers have been sounding the alarm about his state of health ever since.

The confrontation between Mr. Sonko and the authorities has given rise to several episodes of deadly protest since his indictment in 2021 in an affair of sexuality. President Macky Sall's most restive opponent received a six-month suspended prison sentence in May for defamation of a minister, and a two-year prison sentence in June for "corruption of youth" in the vice case.

Mr. Sonko cries conspiracy. The presidential camp accuses him of harboring an insurrectionary project.

Mr. Sonko's lawyers insist that he remains eligible despite his convictions. On the contrary, the Ministry of Justice said a week ago that he had been stripped of his electoral rights.

A source close to the Ministry of the Interior, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the subject, told AFP on Thursday that Mr. Sonko had been struck off the electoral roll following his conviction in June, and that he had been notified of this. Mr. Sonko can lodge an appeal, she said.

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