Senegalese court orders detention of opposition leader Sonko

Senegalese court orders detention of opposition leader Sonko

Court issues ‘warrant of committal’ after hearing charges leveled against him, says lawyer

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – A Senegalese court in the capital Dakar on Monday ordered the detention of opposition leader and presidential hopeful Ousmane Sonko, his lawyer said.

Judge Maham Diallo issued a “warrant of committal” against Sonko after hearing charges leveled against him, Khoureychi Ba told reporters.

Sonko was charged with multiple counts including calls for insurrection, criminal association, endangering state security, conspiracy against the authority of the state, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and theft, three days after being arrested at his home.

A warrant of committal is an order given to the chief guard of a remand prison, by an investigating magistrate or a criminal court, to receive or detain an accused person pending further investigation.

Reacting to the court’s decision, Sonko, whose lawyers expected he could be granted bail, said: “Dear compatriots. I have just been unjustly placed under a warrant of committal. I have always placed my trust in God. If the Senegalese people, for whom I have always fought, abdicate and decide to leave me in the hands of the regime of [president] Macky Sall, I will submit, as always, to the divine will."

Sonko was in June sentenced to two years in prison for “corrupting youth,” which jeopardizes his presidential ambition. The verdict triggered violent protests in which 16 people died.

The 48-year-old has refused to accept the ruling, claiming that the trial was politically motivated to derail his 2024 presidential bid.

As the opposition leader was formally charged, the Senegalese government suspended access to mobile phone data to prevent circulation of subversive messages on social networks which could undermine public disorder.

The government also dissolved Sonko’s political party, the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF).

According to a decree signed by Interior Minister Antoine Felix Diome, the government accused the party leaders of “frequently calling on its supporters to insurrectional movements, which has led to serious consequences, including loss of life, many wounded, as well as acts of looting of public and private property.”

“The latest are the serious disturbances to public order recorded during the first week of June 2023, after those of March 2021,” read the decree.

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