Senegal: Released Opposition Figure Sonko Makes First Public Appearance in Months

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Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko made a highly anticipated public appearance on Friday, March 15th, in Dakar, marking his first in months following his release from prison. He emerged alongside his running mate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is also a presidential candidate in the upcoming March 24th election and was recently freed.

Dressed in a traditional white boubou, Ousmane Sonko, a central figure in a contentious power struggle lasting over two years, was greeted by throngs of supporters upon his arrival near a hotel in the capital, where a press conference was scheduled to take place.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court delivered a pivotal ruling on Friday by rejecting the appeals of disqualified presidential candidates, including Karim Wade, who sought to suspend decrees setting the election date and campaign duration. The Court deemed these appeals “inadmissible.”

A jubilant crowd, estimated to number in the thousands, flooded the streets of Dakar late into the night, celebrating the release of Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye with songs and dances. The procession made its way from the gates of Cape Manuel Prison to Sonko’s residence, drawing enthusiastic support from the city’s residents.

Bassirou Diomaye Faye steps in as a presidential candidate in place of Ousmane Sonko, both of whom were beneficiaries of a recent amnesty law initiated by President Macky Sall. Sall cited the law as a measure to ease tensions after three years of heightened political unrest, fueled by a last-minute postponement of the presidential election. Following days of speculation, the law was enacted, facilitating Sonko and Faye’s release, as explained by Yoro Dia, presidential spokesperson.

The spontaneous outpouring of support underscores the significant influence wielded by Bassirou Diomaye Faye and, more prominently, Ousmane Sonko, whose name resonated throughout the crowd despite not being a formal candidate in the race.

Soukaina Sghir

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