Senegal’s opposition leader hospitalized

Senegal’s opposition leader hospitalized

Ousmane Sonko admitted to emergency room at hospital in Dakar, says his party

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - Senegal’s jailed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who has reportedly been on a hunger strike to protest charges against him, has been hospitalized, his party said Sunday.

In a statement, the Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF) party said Sonko has been admitted to the emergency room at a hospital in the capital, Dakar.

Noting that prior to his imprisonment, he was in good health and had no known illnesses, the party said President Macky Sall and his government “will be fully responsible for everything that happens to him.”

Earlier in the day, local media reports indicated that Sonko was refusing food in prison, where he was detained last month, in protest against his detention over multiple charges that include calling for an insurrection and conspiracy against the state.

Sonko, a presidential hopeful whose political party was dissolved by the government, was detained at the end of last month at Sebikotane prison just outside Dakar.

“The leader of PASTEF, Ousmane Sonko, and other ‘political detainees’ have been on a hunger strike for eight days,” the local news portal Senego reported Sunday.

Sonko was arrested on July 28, and a court in Dakar ordered his detention on July 31.

He reportedly began a hunger strike on July 30.

Sonko announced his hunger strike in a Facebook message before being detained.

“In the face of so much hatred, lies, oppression, persecution, I decided to resist. I observe from this Sunday (July 30) a hunger strike,” he wrote, also calling on “all political detainees to do the same.”

Sonko was in June sentenced to two years in prison for “corrupting youth,” which undermines his chances of running for president.

His sentencing triggered violent protests in which 16 people died.

The 49-year-old has refused to accept the verdict, claiming that the trial was politically motivated to derail his 2024 presidential bid.

PASTEF leaders have condemned the dissolution of their party, terming it as “anti-democratic.”

But Senegal’s Interior Minister Antoine Diome defended the party’s dissolution on Saturday when pressed by lawmakers, saying its inciting of unrest in the country provided grounds for dissolution, which “has nothing to do with politics.”

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