Senegalese opposition leader calls for demonstrations ahead of presidential address

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Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was sentenced to two years in prison a month ago, has called on the Senegalese people to “go out in droves” over the next few days, on the eve of an address to the nation by President Macky Sall, who is due to say whether he will stand for a third term in the 2024 presidential election.

“We must come out to confront the regime of Macky Sall and say that it will not be up to him to choose the candidates who will face each other in the next presidential election”, he declared on Sunday evening during an appearance on social networks.

Mr Sonko’s conviction in a vice case, which currently makes him ineligible, sparked the most serious unrest in Senegal for years in early June, leaving 16 people dead according to the authorities, 24 according to Amnesty International and 30 according to the opposition.

Mr Sonko has repeatedly claimed that the government is plotting to keep him out of the February 2024 presidential election, but the government denies this. He has been blocked by the security forces at his home in Dakar, “sequestered” according to him, since 28 May.

Mr Sall was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019. He had the Constitution revised in 2016.

It stipulates that “no one may serve more than two consecutive terms”. His supporters are presenting him as their candidate in 2024, arguing that the revision has reset the counters to zero.

According to the opponent, if the President does not run, it will be to better eliminate him politically and restart the judicial machine, and “this is not acceptable”. If he is arrested, “I call on all the Senegalese people to stand up as one man and go out en masse and this time put an end to this criminal regime”.

If the President turns up, “I believe it is up to all the Senegalese people to stand up and face him”, he declared. “If we have to fight a battle, it has to be definitive. I call for a national awakening. The days and weeks ahead will be crucial”, he added.

Africanews/Hauwa M.