Senegalese opposition leader claims victim of assassination attempt

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The political climate remains tense in Senegal, after his politically charged trial sparked deadly unrest last week, Ousmane Sonko addressed his supporters Monday.

The country’s main opposition leader claimed he survived an assassination attempt.

Sonko has been hospitalized after appearing in court in a defamation case.

“I am doing much better, thank God, I am talking to you. I couldn’t do it a few days ago. We sent samples of the product abroad that was on our clothes. We wanted to identify the product here in Senegal but we were told that the laboratories here are not equipped to do so.”

“We are waiting for the results, they blocked the ambulance that was supposed to pick me up and my lawyers had to get inside the ambulance) to be able to pick me up at my home. That’s why I am saying that this is an assassination attempt.”

Authorities have not responded to the allegation. Before Sonko’s trial, he had vowed before thousands of supporters rallied in Dakar to lead Senegal in 2024.

His path to the presidency faces judicial hurdles though.

Convictions in either the defamation trial, which has been postponed until March 30, or a separate rape case that has not gone to court, could prevent him from contesting.

Violence has flared in several cities since the opposition leader’s defamation trial opened Thursday, a case that could make him ineligible to contest next year’s presidential elections.

More than 400 people have been arrested since then, according to El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, head of communications for Sonko’s party.

In the town of Bignona, a Sonko stronghold in the south, “a kid was shot” on Thursday, Yankhoba Dieme, president of a local departmental council, said, with an administrative official confirming the demonstrator’s death.

The clashes had started after “young people spontaneously went out to demonstrate in the street”, said Dieme, a member of Sonko’s party.

The security forces did not respond to requests for comment.

Sonko is being tried for allegedly defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, a member of President Sall’s party.

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