Ousmane Sonko, a prominent opposition leader in Senegal, has urged the public to gather in large numbers before President Macky Sall’s highly anticipated speech. The address, scheduled for Monday, is expected to reveal whether Sall will seek a controversial third term in office.
Expressing his concerns on social media Sunday night, Sonko emphasized the importance of standing up against the Macky Sall regime. He stated, “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’s call to action comes after he was handed a two-year prison sentence in early June on charges of “corrupting” a young woman. The verdict triggered widespread protests, resulting in the unfortunate deaths of at least 16 individuals. As a consequence of his conviction, Sonko is currently ineligible to participate in the upcoming presidential elections in the following year.
Sonko has vehemently claimed that the court case was orchestrated to prevent him from running for office, an allegation that authorities have denied. He has been confined to his home by the authorities since May 28, which he describes as an “illegal detention.”
Meanwhile, President Sall is expected to announce his decision on whether he will pursue another term at 8:00 pm on Monday, after keeping the nation in suspense for months. Sall was initially elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2019, with the constitution stipulating a limit of two terms for a president.
However, his supporters argue that a constitutional revision in 2016 reset the term counter to zero, positioning him as a viable candidate for the 2024 elections.
In response to these developments, Sonko stated on Sunday that if he were not released within two hours of his arrest, he called on all Senegalese citizens to unite and mobilize against what he termed a “criminal regime.” Should the president announce his candidacy for a third term, Sonko believes it is crucial for the people of Senegal to rise up and face him.
He added, “If we have to put up a fight, it must be definitive… The days and weeks to come will be crucial.”
Sonko also urged the public to mobilize for the release of political prisoners and demanded an end to his “administrative detention” as soon as possible. He further alleged that a recent “national dialogue” initiated by President Sall, which allowed two previously sidelined opposition figures to reenter the political landscape, was merely a “deal” designed to further obstruct his path to the presidency.
While President Sall has remained ambiguous about his intentions, he has argued that running for a third term would not be unconstitutional and emphasized that his decision, if taken, would be “free and sovereign.”
On Saturday, Sall attended a gathering of local officials who presented him with a petition of support. Expressing his determination, he stated, “My battle and my greatest pride is truly leading to victory and pursuing our economic policies to the benefit of our population.” Sall added that Senegal’s roadmap to becoming an emerging economy by 2035 had already been clearly defined.