Ousmane Sonko, Opposition Leader in Senegal, Condemns Alleged Assassination Plot

Ousmane Sonko, Senegalese opponent, has claimed to have been a victim of an assassination attempt, according to local sources. This news comes after a person died during clashes between the police and Macky Sall’s supporters. Sonko has been hospitalized in Dakar since March 16 for an alleged illness caused by tear gas that was used on him during his forced transfer to the court. He claims to have sent the substance sprayed on him to France to investigate the matter. Meanwhile, President Sall has not yet confirmed his candidacy for the third term in 2024. He argues that only political, and not constitutional, factors would prevent him from running for head of the state again. Sall’s most prominent opponent, Ousmane Sonko, has been sued for defamation by the Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang, and he may be struck off the electoral lists, which makes him ineligible for future presidential elections due to conviction.

The Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko again denounced an assassination attempt against him, AFP learned on Monday, March 20, from local, administrative and party sources. That same day, a person died in Casamance, in the south of Senegal, during clashes between the police and supporters of the adversary of Macky Sall.

Ousmane Sonko has been in a private clinic in Dakar since March 16, where he is receiving treatment, after claiming to have felt ill from the tear gas sent by the police during his forced transfer to the court in Dakar where his defamation trial was held against a minister, two leaders of his party El Hadji Malick Ndiaye and Ousseynou Ly told AFP.

>> To see – Senegal: what is blamed on Ousmane Sonko, leader of the opposition, and what does he risk?

“We shipped the product that was sprayed on me to France to find out what it is,” the opponent said from his hospital bed. “It’s an assassination attempt,” he said. He said he would leave the clinic on Tuesday to continue his recovery at home.

“Since the FDS [Forces de défense et de sécurité] dropped me off at home [à Dakar]I am subject to terrible dizziness, I suffer from pain in my lower abdomen and I am having difficulty breathing,” the opponent wrote Thursday evening on his Facebook page. The Senegalese president “Macky Sall is openly making yet another attempt of assassination on my person”, he added, accusations taken up by his party which speaks of “poisoning”. The authorities did not react.

No constitutional obstacle to a third term, says Macky Sall

Macky Sall kept open, on Monday, the question of his candidacy for a third term in 2024, in an interview with the French magazine L’Express.

The Senegalese president argued that only political and not constitutional factors would prevent him from running, despite what his opponents say. The opposition says that the Constitution prohibits Macky Sall, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, from running for head of state again in 2024.

The Constitution, after the 2016 revision, provides that the duration of the presidential mandate is five years, and no longer seven, and that “no one can exercise more than two consecutive mandates”. However, Macky Sall argues in the interview with the French magazine that, when the Constitutional Council had been consulted before the revision, the latter had considered that his first term was “out of reach” of the reform.

“Legally, the debate has been settled for a long time,” he said. “Now, should I run for a third term or not? It’s a political debate, I admit,” he adds. “I have not yet given my answer. I have an agenda, a job to do. When the time comes, I will make my position known, first to my supporters, then to the Senegalese population,” he said.

Ousmane Sonko risks being struck off the electoral lists

The uncertainty maintained by the head of state is combined with that of the political fate of his most prominent opponent, Ousmane Sonko, to fuel tensions.

Since March 16, the day of the start of the trial of Mr. Sonko sued for defamation by the Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang, clashes have pitted groups of young people against the security forces in several cities of the country. The hearing was adjourned to March 30.

In the town of Bignona, a stronghold of Ousmane Sonko about thirty kilometers from Ziguinchor, the main town of Casamance, “a kid was shot” Monday by the police, Yankhoba Diémé told AFP. the president of the eponymous departmental council, a local institution. Clashes erupted with the police when “young people spontaneously came out to demonstrate in the street” against power, said Mr. Diémé, a member of Mr. Sonko’s party. The information was confirmed to AFP by an administrative official.

>> To see – Senegal: unrest in Dakar during the trial of opponent Ousmane Sonko

The police have since March 16 arrested more than 400 people across the country during protests against power, Mr. Ndiaye, head of communication for Mr. Sonko’s party, told AFP on Monday. Contacted by AFP, the police and the gendarmerie did not react.

Minister Niang is suing Mr. Sonko for defamation, insults and forgery. He accuses him of having declared that he had been singled out in the report of a control institution for his management of a fund for the employment of young people in agriculture.

What is at stake goes far beyond the minister’s reputation. The texts in force provide for removal from the electoral lists, and therefore ineligibility, in certain cases of conviction. The opponent therefore risks being declared ineligible for the 2024 presidential election.

With AFP

The political climate in Senegal remains tense as clashes between supporters of opposing parties persist. Ousmane Sonko, a prominent opponent of President Macky Sall, claims to have been the target of an assassination attempt, adding to the growing animosity between the two sides. Meanwhile, President Sall has not ruled out the possibility of running for a third term in the upcoming presidential election, despite objections from the opposition. The situation is escalating, and the stakes are high, with the outcome of these ongoing events likely to have a significant impact on the future of the country. We will continue to monitor the situation and bring you updates as they unfold.

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