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HomeNewsSenegal's Opposition leadeR Sonko Sentenced To 2 Years

Senegal’s Opposition leadeR Sonko Sentenced To 2 Years

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BY rfI News

Ousmane Sonko, a prominent opposition candidate in Senegal’s 2024 presidential election, has been sentenced to prison on charges of “corrupting youth”, in a case he maintains is intended to stop him running.

A court in Dakar sentenced Sonko to two years imprisonment for the offense, but acquitted him of other charges of rape and issuing death threats.

The verdict was announced on Thursday morning at Darkar’s main courthouse, following the trial on 23 May.

Sonko was not present at either.

The case, which Sonko’s supporters maintain is politically motivated, has deeply divided Senegal and sparked repeated.

Sonko, 48, was accused of raping and threatening a woman who worked at a beauty salon in Dakar. The woman, 20, said she had been abused five times by the politician. 

Sonko claimed she was a “young girl who has been manipulated, promised a diplomatic passport and exile abroad, as well as large sums of money”.

If he had been convicted of rape in absentia, Sonko would have been stripped of his electoral rights.

“Corrupting youth” – debauching or encouraging the debauchery of a person under the age of 21 – is a lesser offense than rape, lawyer Ousmane Thiam told AFP news agency.

But his conviction still threatens to rule him out of next year’s vote.

“With this two-year sentence, Ousmane Sonko cannot be a candidate in the 2024 presidential election – it is a sentence of ineligibility,” one of his lawyers, Bamba Cissé,told journalists outside the courtroom.

Sonko’s Pastef party called the verdict the “ultimate step in [President] Macky Sall’s plot against Sonko”, who they consider to be the main rival to the incumbent.

In a statement, the party called on its supporters to “stay mobilised”, as tensions rose in Dakar and Sonko’s stronghold of Ziguinchor, in the Csamance region.

Another presidential candidate, former prime minister Idrissa Seck, told RFI that he “trusted the Senegalese justice system to handle the trial”, while encouraging Sall not to run for president again next year.

The court also sentenced Sonko’s co-accused, Ndeye Khady Ndiaye, the owner of the beauty salon where Sonko was accused of repeated abuse, to two years’ imprisonment.

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