Senegal's authorities refuse to reintegrate Sonko on electoral lists

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
NOV 1, 2023 LISTEN

The Senegalese electoral commission has asked that Ousmane Sonko be placed again on the  electoral lists after being removed from them following his conviction on a morals case in July. However, the interior ministry has refused, which prevents Sonko from being a presidential candidate in next year's elections.

In its statement, Senegal's National Electoral Commission said that Sonko “must enjoy his status as a registered voter with all the rights attached thereto."

Senegal's Interior Ministry however, refused the request on Tuesday night.

In a response to the letter from the CENA, the Ministry's General Directorate of Elections (DGE) wrote that it "does not have the competence to carry out any action on the electoral register".

The Direction did not specify who has this competence.

The Interior Ministry had already removed Sonko from the voter rolls in the summer, after his conviction in July on charges of corrupting youth.

The decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court, but later overturned by a judge in the southern city of Ziguinchor in mid-October, where Sonko serves as mayor

Sonko's popularity
Sonko is one of the most popular opposition figures in Senegal, especially among young people.

He came third in the last presidential election, and his supporters believe that the slew of criminal allegations brought against him since 2021 are part of a campaign to derail his political aspirations ahead of a presidential election in February 2024.

His candidacy for the upcoming presidential election has been called into question the whole year amid a series of criminal charges, and his party PASTEF, dissolved by the government.

Sonko is currently hospital because of a hunger strike he began earlier this month.

He also awaits a decision from a West African regional court, The ECOWAS Court of Justice, which said that it would render its verdict next week on Senegal's dissolution of Sonko's political party.

 (with AFP)