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Senegal: new blow for Sonko's presidential hopes

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko addresses journalists following his release from police custody in Dakar, Senegal. 08/03/2021   -  
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Sylvain Cherkaoui/Sylvain Cherkaoui


Senegal's Supreme Court on Friday rejected opposition leader Ousmane Sonko's appeal against a libel conviction, potentially ending his hopes of competing in next month's presidential election.

The 49-year-old has been battling a series of court cases since 2021, though he has denied all wrongdoing.

Sonko's appeal focused on his May conviction for libel, which resulted in a six-month suspended sentence and ruled him out of running in the presidential race.

The opposition leader has been seen as a strong potential challenger in the race to succeed President Macky Sall, after coming third in the 2019 elections.

His arrests over the past two years have led to several violent protests in Senegal, one of the continent's most stable democracies.

In December, a court in the southern city of Zinguichor ordered Sonko's reinstatement on the electoral roll, a move that was seen as potentially allowing him to run in the election.

Friday's rejection is a major setback but his lawyers say Sonko will continue to fight the ruling.

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