The Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko, detained since the end of July on various charges including call to insurrection, "suspended" Saturday, September 2, his hunger strike started more than a month ago. His participation in the 2024 presidential election remains nevertheless compromised by a conviction in a case of morality.

Ousmane Sonko, whose balance of power with power and justice has kept Senegal in suspense for more than two years, announced that he had begun his hunger strike on July 30, two days after his arrest. He was transferred to a hospital on 6 August.

"Ousmane Sonko has just suspended his hunger strike," El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, the head of communication for the opponent's party, announced in a message on his Facebook page and on X (ex-Twitter).

President @SonkoOfficiel has just SUSPENDED his hunger strike.

— El Malick NDIAYE (@elmaalignjaay) September 2, 2023

"I confirm the information," said Bamba Cissé, a lawyer and member of the Senegalese opposition defense collective.

Presidential candidate of February 2024, Ousmane Sonko, 49, third in the presidential election of 2019, accuses President Macky Sall, who denies it, of wanting to exclude him from the election by judicial proceedings. Macky Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, announced in early July not to stand again.

Several calls, including from influential religious leaders in Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country where they often mediate politically, have been made in recent days for Ousmane Sonko to end his hunger strike.

" READ ALSO Ousmane Sonko, the fierce opponent who dreams of succeeding Macky Sall

Another lawyer for the politician, Ciré Clédor Ly, cited to AFP "two reasons" explaining his client's decision. "He could not remain insensitive to the call of millions of people who are relieved by this suspension." In addition, "he was never in a suicidal tendency, he should not exhaust his vital organs. It was therefore indicated that he suspended" his hunger strike, Ly told AFP.

The lawyers had issued several alerts on the deterioration, according to them, of the state of health of their client. In a statement sent Friday night to AFP, they said that the life of their client, "admitted to intensive care" since August 17, was "in danger" and invited the State "to urgently take all necessary measures to avoid a tragedy". The Senegalese authorities had questioned this hunger strike.

"Final" conviction

Ousmane Sonko was convicted on 1 June of debauchery of a minor and sentenced to two years in prison. Having refused to appear at the trial, which he denounced as a plot to remove him from the presidential election, he was convicted in absentia.

He has since been jailed at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist enterprise and endangering state security.

The authorities blame him for a series of episodes of protest to which his standoff with the government and his troubles with the law have given rise since 2021 - the most serious in June - and which have left several dead.

In an online interview published Wednesday by the magazine Jeune Afrique, Justice Minister Ismaïla Madior Fall said that the conviction of the opponent in the case of morality was "final", which makes him ineligible for the presidential election of 2024.

Ousmane Sonko was also sentenced on appeal to a six-month suspended prison sentence in May for defamation of a minister, a case in which he has not exhausted his appeals. Several hundred of its activists and supporters are in prison, according to his party.

With AFP

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