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Senegal: Dakar residents react to ruling against Sonko's appeal of a libel conviction

Senegal   -  
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Leo Correa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


A major disappointment for some Senegalese as the Dakar Supreme Court ruled against Ousmane Sonko on Thursday. The top court confirmed the verdict of that of the Court of Appeal sentencing the Senegalese opposition leader to a 6-months in prison sentence and a $330,00 fine for defamation and public insults.

"I'm very, very disappointed by this situation. There shouldn't have been a selection. It was supposed to be a question of popular will" says Aime Bachir Sagna a Dakar resident. "We have to adhere to what the people want. I'm not saying that the people want Sonko, but they hate injustice, and everything suggests that what's happening now is a step in that direction".

The ruling has also cast in doubt Sonko's fate as a potential candidate for Februrary's presidential election. "I hope he'll be one of the candidates for 2024. As soon as you see Ousmane Sonko, if you're a person who knows life very well, you realize that he's a person who knows the realities of the country, particularly the current situation of young people" says Zeyna Williace Barry, another Dakar resident.

While some confirm the opponent's ineligibility, others prefer to err on the side of caution, basing their verdict on two articles of the electoral code, at the heart of a controversy between legal experts.

"The majority of legal experts say that, according to the electoral code, you need at least 6 months plus one day, otherwise you can't lose your civic rights. But the controversy concerns article L30, which states that once you've been convicted, you're removed from the electoral roll, and if you're not on the electoral roll, you can't stand as a candidate. But that's for the Constitutional Council to decide" Abdolaye Faye said.

The Supreme Court's confirmation of the Dakar Court of Appeal's verdict has come as a real blow to Ousmane Sonko's supporters according to Africanews correspondent Wahany Johnson Sambo. "Most of this Friday's newspapers report, the opponent is virtually out of the running for the presidential election on February 25. The Constitutional Council will have to validate this decision, which is now the defense's last hope" Sambo reported.

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