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In Senegal, opponent Ousmane Sonko and his “freedom caravan” on their way to Dakar

Threatened with ineligibility, Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko began his return trip to Dakar on Friday at the head of a popular convoy across the country. A risky trip a few days after his refusal to appear in court to be tried for rape.

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He doesn’t want to back down. Ousmane Sonko, Senegalese opponent and declared presidential candidate of 2024, began his return trip to Dakar on Friday, May 26. A risky trip for those who are threatened with ineligibility, in a context of arm wrestling with power.

A long convoy of cars left his home in Ziguinchor (south), noted an AFP correspondent.

Images broadcast live on social networks then showed the procession progressing a few tens of kilometers away, on the side of Goudomp, Ousmane Sonko perched in his shirt on a vehicle enhanced with the Senegalese flag, and clusters of enthusiastic young people running behind.

The approximately 500 kilometers between Ziguinchor and Dakar can be covered in more or less nine hours via Gambia. But Ousmane Sonko should bypass Gambia and extend his journey by around 350 km.

His party’s spokesman, Ousseynou Ly, said he could not say when Ousmane Sonko would arrive in Dakar.

A “freedom caravan”

It is a new act of defiance against power on the part of Ousmane Sonko, a few days after his refusal to appear in court to be tried for rape. He remained a recluse for several days at his home in Ziguinchor, of which he is the mayor, his villa closely guarded by young people determined to ward off a possible attempt at arrest.

Ousmane Sonko, president of the Pastef-les Patriotes party, third in the presidential election in 2019, a divisive but popular personality among those under 20, denounces his trial as a power plot to remove him from the presidential election. He said he wanted to turn his return to Dakar into a “freedom caravan”.

>> To read also: Ousmane Sonko, the fierce opponent of Macky Sall who dreams of succeeding him

The criminal chamber which sat in his absence on Tuesday must deliver its verdict on 1er June, and tension mounts as the deadline approaches.

The mobilization of his supporters, during his appointments with the justice system in particular, has regularly given rise to incidents and disturbances, including fatal ones.

Ousmane Sonko risks losing his eligibility, already compromised by a six-month suspended sentence for defamation against a minister.

The government denies any instrumentalization of justice and evokes a private matter. He warned before Ousmane Sonko’s departure from Ziguinchor that he would enforce the order “no matter what”.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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