Senegalese court sentences opposition leader to six months in prison

Senegalese court sentences opposition leader to six months in prison

A Senegalese court has sentenced a popular presidential Senegalese opposition politician, Mr Ousmane Sonko, to six months in prison.

His political ambition suffered a setback on Monday after a court in the capital, Dakar, handed him a six-month suspended sentence and a $300,000 fine.

The leading opposition politician who intends to run in next year’s presidential elections was found guilty of defaming the country’s tourism minister and was given a two-month suspended prison sentence in March.

But the prosecution called for a heavier sentence following an appeal.

Mr Sonko did not appear in court on Monday for the appeal hearing and announced he would no longer respond to court invitations unless his security could be assured by the Senegalese authorities.

The court ruling was marred by small protests from the supporters of Sonko in Dakar but riot police were quick to quell the agitation with tear gas.

Political experts in Senegal posited that Sonko may likely get excluded from the 2024 presidential election under the electoral code on candidates’ eligibility if he does not successfully challenge the new sentence accordingly.

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Sonko is also facing a rape case involving a beauty salon employee in 202. He denies all wrongdoing, but the outcome of that case could also affect his electoral eligibility.

Senegal has witnessed a series of protests over the decision of the incumbent President, Macky Sall, to run for reelection in 2024.

The country’s constitution only allows a ruling president to preside for two terms, but some fear that Mr. Macky Sall will use a recent adjustment to the constitution to reset his mandate, which ends in 2024, allowing him to run again.

A number of human rights organizations have expressed concern about the country’s tense atmosphere and limitations on the right to assemble and freedom of expression.

The groups also urged President Sall to drop his third term campaign because he hasn’t said whether he’ll run in 2024.

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