Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko arrested

Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko arrested

'Sonko was picked from his home by elements of the gendarmerie and whisked (away) to an unknown destination,' says his lawyer

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Senegal’s opposition leader and presidential hopeful in next year’s elections, Ousmane Sonko, was arrested on Friday, his lawyer said.

Sonko was arrested by the gendarmerie from his home in the capital Dakar, according to one of his lawyers, Juan Branco. He was “picked from his home by elements of the gendarmerie and whisked (away) to an unknown destination,” Branco stated on social network X, formerly Twitter.

Sonko had earlier tweeted that members of the gendarmerie "were preparing to break down his door."

After returning from Friday prayers, he said intelligence officers stationed outside his home began filming him.

Though no official statement has been issued regarding his arrest, last month, a local court sentenced Sonko to two years in prison for “corrupting youth,” jeopardizing his presidential ambitions.

Violent protests erupted in the capital Dakar and other towns following his sentencing, leaving 16 people dead and more than 350 others injured.

Sonko, the president of the PASTEF-Patriots party, was charged with rape and making death threats against Adji Sarr, an employee of a beauty salon in the capital, in 2021.

But judges at the High Court in Dakar acquitted Sonko of the two charges.

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

Sonko emerged third in the 2019 election against incumbent President Macky Sall, who has ruled out running for a third term.

On Monday, the authorities lifted the security perimeter that had been set up around Sonko's home in Dakar in May.

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