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Senegal court orders jailed opposition leader to be reinstatement on electoral register, gov’t to appeal

December 15, 2023
Senegal court orders jailed opposition leader to be reinstatement on electoral register, gov't to appeal
Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko | Photo: Reuters

A court in has issued a ruling ordering the reinstatement of jailed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko on the electoral register.

This decision holds the potential to clear the way for Sonko's participation in the upcoming February presidential election, according to his lawyer, Cire Cledor Ly.

Ousmane Sonko has been entangled in a series of legal battles over the past two years, facing charges ranging from libel to rape, all of which he vehemently denies.

These legal disputes have sparked violence in Senegal.

In June, Sonko was acquitted of rape but was handed a two-year prison sentence for an offence categorized in the penal code as immoral behaviour toward individuals under 21.

His arrest in July on charges of insurrection led to his removal from the electoral roll, a move that could have barred him from the upcoming presidential vote.

As the court of first instance in Dakar overturned this decision on Thursday, lawyer Cire Cledor Ly expressed confidence in the justice system.

“This decision doesn't surprise us. We were just afraid that they might use force against us. But this country won't go anywhere if justice doesn't work,” Ly stated outside the court.

Another lawyer for Sonko, Bamba Cisse, highlighted that the court's ruling opens the possibility for Sonko's participation in Senegal's presidential election scheduled for February 2024.

However, a lawyer representing the state announced the government's intention to appeal the decision, indicating that the legal proceedings may continue.

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