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Senegal: the president asks to apply the amnesty law

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar14,2024

Senegal: the president calls for apply the amnesty law

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The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, calls for the amnesty law to be applied immediately after its promulgation. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Senegalese President Macky Sall has asked his government to implement a recent amnesty law as soon as it is promulgated, keeping the country in nervous anticipation of a potential exit of prison for one of the main presidential candidates in ten days.

The promulgation is expected imminently. No official information was provided as to when it would take place.

Since its adoption last week, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, anti-system candidate for the March 24 presidential election, and his leader Ousmane Sonko, also detained, have been presented as the main potential beneficiaries of the law.

Uncertainty remains as to whether they would fall within the scope of the law. But unconfirmed reports abound of a release that could strongly influence the dynamics of the campaign.

Mr. Faye is prevented from making his case in person to voters, an unprecedented situation. The training capacity demonstrated in the past by Mr. Sonko and his popularity among young people would inject a new agent into the campaign.

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President Sall on Wednesday asked the government to proceed without delay with the application of the amnesty law as soon as it is promulgated, said a press release from the Council of Ministers published in the evening.

Mr. Sonko, the main actor in a two-year standoff with power and justice, has been imprisoned since July 2023. Candidate for the 2024 presidential election, he was disqualified in January 2024. His camp designated in his place and with his consent his second, Mr. Faye, although detained since April 2023.

The indictment of Mr. Sonko by the courts , combined with economic and social tensions and the vagueness long maintained by President Sall over a third term, gave rise between 2021 and 2023 to different episodes of riots, looting and ransacking.

President Sall has given up on running for office. But the last minute postponement of the presidential election initially scheduled for February 25 caused new clashes.

Dozens of people were killed and hundreds arrested since 2021 during unrest which has strongly shaken a country considered one of the most stable in a West Africa shaken by coups.

Mr. Sonko has always called it a plot to exclude him from the presidential election. His camp and the government blame each other for the violence.

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A protester holds a Senegal flag in the streets of Dakar. Ten days before the presidential election, the country is awaiting a potential release from prison for one of the main candidates. (File photo)

The presidential election was finally set for March 24. President Sall introduced the amnesty as an act of appeasement. It targets all offenses or crimes, whether tried or not, committed between February 2021 and February 2024 and relating to demonstrations or having political motivations.

Mr. Sonko, herald of the struggle for the people for some, incendiary agitator for others, was the subject of two convictions in 2023: one to suspended prison sentence for defamation against a minister, the #x27;other to two years in prison for embezzlement of a minor.

He was finally arrested at the end of July 2023 for other reasons, and charged with calling for insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and endangering state security. p>

Mr. Faye, for his part, was charged with contempt of court, defamation and acts likely to compromise public peace, according to one of his lawyers, after a critical message against justice in the Sonko case. Unlike Mr. Sonko, he was not tried.

Mr Sonko's electability has always been a major issue. It remains controversial. She returned to the Supreme Court on Thursday during a brief hearing that went almost unnoticed, far from the usual noise surrounding the Sonko case.

The The court was to consider a state appeal against a December 14 court order that restored Mr. Sonko's eligibility. The State has withdrawn and the case is closed, a State lawyer, Me Amadou Yeri Ba, told AFP.

The concrete impacts remain unclear. The order of December 14 also considered that Mr. Sonko's two-year prison sentence was overturned. Me Amadou Yeri Ba assured that the classification by the Supreme Court had no direct consequence on the release of Mr. Sonko.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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