Ousmane Sonko, the imprisoned Senegalese opposition leader, who has been on a hunger strike since shortly after his arrest last month, has been admitted to a hospital in Dakar, according to his lawyer and supporters.
His party, PASTEF, stated that he required emergency care due to his deteriorating condition, although specifics regarding his health were not disclosed. The authorities have yet to release a statement on the matter.
Sonko, a declared candidate for the February 2024 presidential election, has been embroiled in a bitter power struggle with the authorities since 2021 when he faced an investigation in a moral corruption case. His hunger strike began on July 30, just two days after his arrest.
The conviction he received in absentia on June 1 for two months in prison sparked violent clashes, leaving differing reported casualties: 16 according to the government, 24 according to Amnesty International, and 30 according to Sonko’s PASTEF party.
In July, his arrest was followed by charges of fomenting insurrection and the dissolution of his party, leading to further protests and resulting in two deaths.
These legal challenges cast uncertainty on Sonko’s eligibility to contest the presidency in 2024. His lawyers argue that as he was convicted in absentia, his arrest necessitates a retrial.
Prosecutors, however, dispute this interpretation of the law.
Recently, Senegal’s parliament passed a law restoring the eligibility of two key opposition figures, Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, to run in the upcoming presidential election. The law allows individuals convicted but later pardoned or amnestied to stand for office.
This decision could potentially impact Sonko’s eligibility as well, depending on legal interpretations.
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