Photo by CARMEN ABD ALI/AFP via Getty Images.
Senegalese Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Returns to Prison
Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko returns to prison following medical treatment amid hunger strike against "politically motivated charges."
Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has been transferred back to Cap Manuel prison after weeks of receiving medical treatment at the Main Hospital in Dakar. Sonko, who had been on a hunger strike to protest what he claims are politically motivated charges, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, according to a statement from his dissolved party, the Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF).
The 49-year-old politician was arrested on July 28 and faces charges of plotting an insurrection, undermining state security, and criminal association with a terrorist body. Sonko began his hunger strike two days after his arrest. PASTEF stated that Sonko's hospitalization was due to emergency care, holding the authorities responsible for his deteriorating condition.
Cire Cledor Ly, one of Sonko's lawyers, confirmed the hospitalization to the AFP news agency but did not provide details about his current condition. The Senegalese government has not issued an immediate comment on the matter.
Sonko, who secured the third position in the country's 2019 presidential election, enjoys significant popularity among Senegal's youth. Prison authorities explained that Sonko's return to Cap Manuel prison followed a recommendation by his attending physician. El-Malick Ndiaye, the press officer for Sonko's opposition party, criticized the move, stating, "Wherever he is detained, the result is the same: President Ousmane Sonko remains a favorite candidate in the presidential election, arbitrarily detained and deprived of his rights by his political opponents."
Sonko's supporters argue that the criminal allegations against him since 2021 are part of an orchestrated campaign to hinder his political aspirations ahead of the February presidential election. Despite being initially removed from the voter rolls by Senegal's Interior Ministry after a corruption conviction earlier this year, a judge in Ziguinchor later overturned the decision, allowing Sonko to participate in the upcoming election.
The uncertainty surrounding Sonko's eligibility persists as Senegal's Supreme Court is set to rule on Friday regarding the judge's decision in Ziguinchor.
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