Despite his reinstatement by the courts to include his name on the ballot, representative of imprisoned Senegalese opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko were prevented on Tuesday from collecting the documents needed for his 2024 presidential candidacy.
Recall that on Thursday, a Senegalese judge ordered the reinstatement on the electoral roll of Mr Sonko, the central figure in a standoff with the state that has lasted more than two years and given rise to several episodes of deadly unrest.
Ayib Daffé, his representative, accompanied by his lawyer Clédor Ly, went on Tuesday to the Direction générale des élections (DGE) and the Direction de l’automatisation du fichier, bodies under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior, to obtain the sponsorship collection forms.
But they were prevented from seeing the heads of these departments and therefore from receiving the documents, they told the press.
“We saw an exercise in hide-and-seek by senior officials who did not want to see Ousmane Sonko’s agent and lawyers face to face. They hid behind their desks to refuse to see us and the Minister of the Interior deployed an impressive security detail (…) to block our entrance”, declared Ayib Daffé after several fruitless hours of waiting.
“We’re going to come back as many times as we have to because we have the law on our side. We have justice on our side. We have the people with us”, he insisted.”Why is violence reigning supreme in this country?
The people cannot be taken hostage”, said the lawyer Clédor Ly in a statement to the press a few minutes later. “It cannot be an election that reflects the will of the people if Ousmane Sonko is not part of it”, he said.
“The international community needs to know that (the Senegalese people) are not a violent people, they are a people who are standing up, who are simply asking that this country respect the law, the rule of law, democracy, so that we can live in peace,” he said.
“If there is a caste of people who are sabotaging all that, the international community does not have the right to remain silent”, he added.
Mr Sonko, 49, was found guilty on 1 June of debauching a minor and sentenced to two years in prison. He refused to attend the trial and was sentenced in absentia.
He was imprisoned at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist undertaking and undermining state security.
He denounces all these cases as a plot to prevent him from taking part in the presidential election, which the government denies.