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Senegal: Supporters of Sonko react to court ruling clearing his bid

Supporters of Senegal opposition leader Ousmane Sonko take to the streets of Dakar Tuesday March 14, 2023.   -  
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Sylvain Cherkaoui/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.


Supporters of Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko are rejoicing.

A Dakar court ordered Thursday (Dec. 14) the reinstatement of the opposition leader on the electoral roll, clearing one hurdle off a path to the 2024 presidential election that has so far been strewn with pitfalls.

At a bus stop in Dakar, Alpha is happy: "All of us are satisfied. We were expecting the verdict because we know our leader did nothing."

"He should have been given his eligibility [some time ago] But to delay things, they did it late." [Still], we are satisfied, we are still behind him and he will be our candidate, Inchallah (God willing, ed), in 2024."

In order to run for president, Sonko must file his candidacy by Dec. 26. However, it is unclear whether the administration will accept to provide him with the forms necessary to file his candidacy.

A potential appeal?

Indeed, a similiar scenario already played out in October.

A court in Ziguinchor had cleared him to be reinstated on the electoral roll but the administration refused to give him the forms arguing the court decision was not definitive. Indeed, the State of Senegal had loged an appeal.

Following this, the Supremer Court ordered that Sonko's case be retried by the Dakar court of first instance.

After Thursday's (Dec. 14) verdict, Sonko's lawyers say their client must be reinstated immediately on the electoral roll.

The lawyers of the State of Senegal reportedly said the court decision cannot be conducted right away.

The State officially has 10 days to appeal.

On Tuesday (Dec. 12), ahead of the verdict by the Dakar court, Ondama Fall, a lawyer for the State, said that Sonko's request to be reinstated on the electoral list was "inadmissible".

"Ousmane Sonko filed his request outside of the 5-day deadline that is provided by the law" while he'd already been informed of the decision to strike him off the rolls," Fall added.

Car l’une des questions clefs de l’audience était de savoir si Ousmane Sonko avait été correctement informé de la décision de le radier des listes électorales, après sa condamnation en juin à deux ans de prison ferme dans une affaire de mœurs.

The judge eventually ruled Thursday (Dec. 14) that Sonko had not been correctly informed of the decision to strike him off the electoral roll following his conviction for corrupting youth.

2024 presidential race

A suporter of Sonko's now dissolved Pastef party isn't afraid: "The State of Senegal, can appeal if they want, it is their absolute right."

"We know we are on the right path. If the state makes an appeal, we will win it again, because the law will always be recognized, we are in a country of democrats," Younoussa says.

 "I’m not afraid regarding this. Macky Sall is done, he can go rest, he just has to accept like Abdoulaye Wade did when he ceded him power, Macky Sall just has to give the seat to our professional Ousmane Sonko."

Sonko finished third in the 2019 presidential election, and his supporters believe that the slew of criminal allegations brought against him since 2021 are part of an orchestrated campaign to derail his political aspiration.

Eligible candidates will be announced within the first two weeks of January and the campaign season kicks off the following month.

The coalition which included the party of Ousmane Sonko, said in November it was sponsoring its number two politician, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, as candidate for the 25 February presidential election. He could still remain an option if a Sonko candidacy doesn't happen.

Senegalese President Macky Sall nominated his Prime Minister, Amadou Ba, as the candidate representing his party in the upcoming February 2024 presidential election.

Despite persistent doubts about his candidacy, the son of former president Karim Wade could also contest in the 2024 presidential election.

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