Sonko urges Senegalese to 'come out en masse' before President speech
Senegalese President Macky Sall is scheduled to declare on Monday whether he will seek a third term.
Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko urged the public to "come out en masse" on the eve of a speech in which President Macky Sall is scheduled to declare on Monday whether he will seek a third term.
"We must come out to confront the Macky Sall regime and say that it is not up to him to choose the candidates that will face each other in the next presidential election," Sonko said on social media Sunday night.
Sonko was given a two-year prison sentence in early June for "corrupting" a young lady, which sparked demonstrations that resulted in at least 16 people dead.
The conviction makes him ineligible to run for next year's presidential elections.
Sonko said the court case was fabricated to keep him from running for the presidency, an allegation that is refuted by the authorities that have been preventing him from entering his house since May 28; he describes this as being "illegally held".
Sall, in the meantime, has kept the nation guessing about his plans for months and is now set to reveal whether he would seek another mandate at 8:00 pm on Monday.
Sall was elected twice, first in 2012 and then in 2019, knowing that the constitution prohibits a president from serving more than two terms.
However, his supporters portray him as their 2024 candidate and claim that the 2016 constitutional amendment caused the counter to be reset to zero.
Political situation escalates
Sonko stated on Sunday that if he was detained and not released within two hours, "I call on all the Senegalese people to stand up as one and come out en masse and this time put an end to this criminal regime."
He went on to say that "I believe it's incumbent on all the Senegalese people to stand up, to face him," if the President declares his bid for a third term.
"If we have to put up a fight, it must be definitive... The days and weeks to come will be crucial," he stressed.
He also called on the public to mobilize to demand the release of political prisoners and bring an end as soon as possible to his "administrative detention".
Sonko further asserted that a recent "national dialogue" that Sall spearheaded and which restored the political aspirations of two other once marginalized opposition members was actually a "deal" designed to further exclude him from the presidency.
Sall has debated that it would not be unlawful for him to run again and that his decision to do so would be "free and sovereign" while being vague about his intentions.
On Saturday, he participated in a gathering of local officeholders who presented him with a petition of support.
"My battle and my greatest pride is truly leading to victory and pursuing our economic policies to the benefit of our population," Sall said, stressing that Senegal's path to becoming an emerging economy by 2035 had already been "marked out".