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Ousmane Sonko to remain in jail after High Court Ruling


On November 17th, Senegal’s highest court ruled against the detained opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, effectively barring him from running in the country's upcoming presidential elections.

This decision came after an ECOWAS Court ruled against a petition made by Sonko, claiming that the Senegalese government had violated his rights by striking his voter registration and the dissolution of his political party, PASTEF. The ECOWAS regional court, however, recently dismissed this petition, claiming that the government did not violate any of his rights.

During his current stint in prison, A court in the southern city of Ziguinchor, the city where Sonko served as Mayor, had initially ruled in favor of reinstating him to the voter rolls, a list of all of the eligible candidates for elections, a decision that was quickly annulled by the country’s Supreme Court. The case was then remanded to the Dakar High Court, where the Supreme Court’s Decision was upheld.

Subsequently, the election authorities have refused to provide Sonko with the proper sponsorship papers which all presidential candidates need to submit by early next month, making him entirely ineligible to run for the presidential office, a decision which was seen as a worst case scenario for Sonko, as prior, it was possible for him to run for the presidency from his prison cell. In the wake of these rulings, his party has sponsored their No. 2 politician for the presidential elections, Bassirou Diomaye Faye.

In a statement released after the announcement of Faye’s candidacy for the presidential elections, PASTEF, Sonko’s party and the main opposition party to the incumbent president, Macky Sall, stated that “Sponsoring the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye in no way implies the abdication of the candidacy of President Ousmane Sonko.

Everyone knows him well enough to know that to his last breath, he will fight without compromise. To sponsor the candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye is to defeat the regime’s strategy of rotting and launch one of our project’s many cards into the race.” Like Sonko, Faye has also been the victim of suspicious criminal charges that his party believes are politically motivated hit pieces by the Sall government to root out any opposition candidates, and make them ineligible to run against Sall’s Party’s candidate, Amadou Ba.

Sonko has had nothing short of a tumultuous political career. After founding his political party, African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity, also known in French as Patriotes africains du Sénégal pour le travail, l'éthique et la fraternité, PASTEF, in 2014, he then served as a member of the Senegalese National Assembly. After his stint in the National Assembly, he announced his intention to run for the Presidency in 2019, where he announced support for Senegal to replace the CFA Franc with a domestic currency, in an effort to get rid of France’s economic hold on its former colonies. After announcing his intention to run for president, Sonko began being targeted by dubious charges, such as corrupting the country’s youth, inciting riots, and a rape charge that was dismissed.

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