Ousmane Sonko, the favored Senegalese opposition chief dealing with a rape trial, mentioned Wednesday that he would lead a “caravan of freedom” throughout the nation as he travels to face judges in Dakar.
Sonko, who has a eager following amongst Senegal’s giant youth inhabitants, has branded the trial a political plot aimed toward scuttling his bid for the presidency in 2024 elections.
Sonko, 48, has been charged with rape and making loss of life threats in opposition to an worker of a magnificence salon in Dakar, accusations that he denies.
“I am going to meet you in Dakar: both (President) Macky Sall steps again, or we are going to face him to place an finish to this,” Sonko instructed a whole bunch of cheering supporters outdoors his house within the southern metropolis of Ziguinchor after the second day of his trial wrapped.
“The ultimate struggle, the place will it go? It is going to occur in Dakar… If you’re 2,000, let 1,500 go to Dakar to proceed the struggle,” he mentioned.
Sonko plans to return to Dakar by highway and switch the 500-kilometre (310-mile) journey right into a “caravan of freedom”, saying in a while social media that his convoy would set off for Dakar on Thursday.
Public prosecutor Abdou Karim Diop had earlier referred to as for a 10-year jail sentence for rape, or a minimal of a five-year time period for “corrupting youth.”
Both sentence would legally bar him from contesting the elections.
A call is predicted to be handed down on June 1, the president of the prison court docket mentioned after the marathon 17-hour session wound up.
The trial had resumed Tuesday after a weeklong suspension, however Sonko refused to indicate up for the second time.
The court docket rejected pleas by his legal professionals for a brand new adjournment, prompting the attorneys to stroll out.
Sonko has mentioned he went to the “Candy Beaute” salon for a therapeutic massage for persistent again ache and denies any assault.
The complainant maintained her accusations in Tuesday’s listening to, saying she had been abused 5 instances by Sonko between 2020 and early 2021. She additionally mentioned she had acquired loss of life threats if she went public together with her accusations.
The conservative nation has been avidly following the case, which on Wednesday served up a string of salacious particulars.
– Trial no-show –
The trial opened on Might 16 however was instantly adjourned after Sonko refused to attend.
Sonko declared final Friday that he feared being attacked and wouldn’t seem with out state ensures for his security.
His lawyer, Cire Cledor Ly, instructed AFP by phone on Wednesday that his consumer was “supremely calm” after the developments in court docket.
He gave no particulars as to the recommendation Sonko’s attorneys can be giving for the way forward for the case.
Ziguinchor residents had been divided over the trial.
Amadou Badji, a 75-year-old pensioner, mentioned Sall had been focusing on Sonko for the previous 5 years “just because he raises hope.”
“I’ve not seen such goings-on since Senegal gained independence,” he mentioned.
However 33-year-old espresso vendor Algassim Diallo mentioned individuals had been “fed up” with the case.
“The nation has been taken hostage for the previous two years by a story about rapes. Every part has slowed down — merchants, drivers, everyone seems to be complaining. It is time to transfer on,” he mentioned.
– Lethal clashes –
Sonko, president of the PASTEF-Patriots get together, got here in third within the 2019 election in opposition to incumbent Sall.
He’s particularly widespread amongst individuals aged below 20, who comprise half of Senegal’s booming inhabitants.
Senegal is historically a beacon of stability in troubled West Africa, however lately has been buffeted by turbulence that has at instances turned lethal.
When Sonko was arrested in 2021, a number of days of protests left not less than 12 individuals useless.
Three different individuals died throughout clashes between Sonko supporters and police forward of the beginning of the newest proceedings.
Political tensions have additionally been stoked by Sall’s refusal to rule out working for a 3rd time period as president, a transfer his opponents say can be unconstitutional.
Sall was elected in 2012, when the presidential time period was seven years, and re-elected in 2019, when the time period was lowered to 5 years.
Further sources • AFP