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A judge in the southern Senegalese city of Ziguinchor ruled late last week that imprisoned politician Ousmane Sonko can run in 2024 elections, opening the door to opposition after months of protests, Africanews reported.
Authorities had removed Sonko’s name from the electoral rolls, preventing him from running in the 2024 presidential election. His political party, Pastef, has been dissolved.
Now, the ruling means Sonko, who is mayor of Ziguinchor, can run in presidential elections to be held in February. Sonko came third in the 2019 election, but has since become the country’s strongest opponent to President Macky Sall, who said in July he won’t run for a third term and thereby avoid violating constitutional term limits.
Meanwhile, the government has said it would appeal.
Regardless, Sonko still faces troubles. The politician was found guilty of morally corrupting a minor on June 1, and sentenced to two years in prison, France24 wrote. He has denied the charges and called them politically motivated, refusing to participate in the trial. He was sentenced in absentia.
In late July, he was imprisoned on a fresh string of charges, including fomenting insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and undermining state security. The charges are related to protests in 2021.
His conviction in June sparked clashes that left 16 dead, according to the government, or as many as 30, according to his party. Meanwhile, he has been hospitalized over the past few months because of a hunger strike, the Africa Report said.
The violence raised concerns that Senegal was no longer a beacon of political pluralism and stability in a region known for its frequent coups and aging leaders clinging to power.