Presidential election in Senegal Ban on a gathering for the

Presidential election in Senegal: Ban on a gathering for the inauguration of opponent Ousmane Sonko

Senegalese authorities have banned a meeting planned for Saturday in Dakar for the inauguration of detained opponent Ousmane Sonko in the February 2024 presidential election, AFP learned from an official source on Friday.

The meeting was banned due to “threat of disrupting public order, obstruction to the free movement of people and goods and risk of infiltration by malicious persons,” said a decree signed by the prefect of Dakar, Chérif Mouhamadou Blondon Ndiaye, sent to AFP who confirmed the authenticity of the document.

“This is just another provocation, but we invite comrades and sympathizers to listen to us,” El Malick Ndiaye, a member of Mr. Sonko’s entourage, reacted on Facebook.

The opponent's camp told AFP on Tuesday, without further details, that it had submitted its candidacy to the Constitutional Council despite the government's refusal to provide it with all the necessary documents. The deadline for collecting sponsorships and submitting applications was December 26th.

“The name of the coalition of parties (Sonko Presidential Coalition 2024) has been communicated to the Constitutional Council since December 11, 2023 and the candidacy file (of the opponent) was submitted on December 12,” a lawyer for Mr. Sonko, Ciré Clédor Ly, also explained his representative at court level, in a press release sent to AFP on Friday evening.

“Mr. Ousmane Sonko has fulfilled all the obligations imposed on him by the Constitution, the electoral law, the regulations and the ministerial decrees. The State of Senegal has taken all unimaginable measures to prevent the submission of the candidacy file,” said Me Ly in this text.

Mr. Sonko is the central figure in a more than two-year standoff with the state that has led to several episodes of deadly unrest.

His camp has also submitted the candidacy of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, one of his relatives who is also in prison, according to one of its officials.

Mr. Faye could be another option for Mr. Sonko's party Pastef (Party of Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity) – whose authorities announced their dissolution at the end of July – for the presidential election on February 25, 2024.

After the government refused to hand over the necessary documents to Mr. Sonko, his lawyers announced their intention to submit his candidacy to the Constitutional Council, saying they “trust the judicial system” in the face of a state that they said “trusted” “exclude.” “ from the vote.

Mr. Sonko was found guilty of debauchery of a minor on June 1 and sentenced to two years in prison. He did not appear at the trial and was sentenced in absentia.

The 49-year-old opposition figure, who has been detained since late July on other charges including incitement to insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and endangering state security, describes these cases and the others in which he was involved as targeted attacks to exclude him from the presidential election.

Macky Sall, president since 2012, announced in July that he would not seek a third term. He appointed Amadou Ba to represent the outgoing majority.

In mid-December, a judge renewed his candidacy by ordering his re-registration on the electoral rolls, upholding an October decision by the Ziguinchor (South) Court that had been overturned by the Supreme Court. The country appealed the decision made in mid-December.

More than 90 applications have been submitted to the Constitutional Council, which must announce the list of candidates selected for the January 20 presidential election.