SONKO’S TRIAL AGAINST SOCIOPOLITICAL TENSIONS IN SENEGAL: What if Macky Sall finally clarified his position?

After several dismissals, it was a special hearing which saw, on March 30 in Dakar, the trial for defamation of the opponent Ousmane Sonko. He was given a two-month suspended sentence. The verdict fell late yesterday morning. This, in a context of intense tension which has seen its supporters clinging to the streets since the day before when clashes broke out between police and demonstrators determined to defy the ban. The fact is that for several months, the soap opera Ousmane Sonko has been holding the whole of Senegal spellbound, where the socio-political atmosphere has deteriorated sharply. The leader of PASTEF is the subject of legal proceedings which are nothing else, for the opposition gathered around its leader, than a political cabal aiming to disqualify him from the race for the presidential chair. And the situation is all the more explosive because not only does the opposition not trust the justice system, which it accuses of being subservient to the power in place, but also because it suspects the Head of State of feeding inclinations to run for a third term which she deems constitutionally undue.

It is the possibility of his candidacy for a third term, which crystallizes the passions within the opposition

From there to see behind the legal troubles of their champion, a roundabout way, for the power, to clear a boulevard for the native of Fatick, by the now well-known method of the judicial condemnation which got the better of the presidential ambitions of opponents and not the least like Karim Wade, Khalifa Sall and Barthélemy Dias long before Ousmane Sonko, there is a step that the opposition quickly took. And everything suggests that she derives enough motivation from it to maintain the pressure on Justice, which is not far from being caught between the hammer of an opposition which wants to be more vigilant than ever and the anvil of a power that does not intend to undress in the face of pressure from the street. If this is not a way for the opposition to push the head of state to reveal his intentions, it looks very much like it. So what if Macky Sall finally clarified his position? The question is all the more justified since everything suggests that it is the possibility of his candidacy for a third term, which today crystallizes the passions within the opposition. How can it be otherwise when, instead of reassuring his compatriots, the tenant of the Palace of the Republic himself is not afraid to open the legal debate on the question, knowing that his reading is at odds with that of his opponents? Suffice to say that today, Macky Sall seems both the problem and the solution to the socio-political crisis that his country is going through. The solution could go in the direction of a clear and net renunciation of this famous third mandate, like Mahamadou Issoufou, the former president of Niger who had not hesitated to throw behind bars, some of his supporters who called him to take the plunge.

The conviction of Ousmane Sonko does not close the debate

The problem will remain, however, if Macky Sall continues to lock himself in a silence that does not fail to question less than a year from the presidential election of February 25, 2024; or worse if he were to drop the mask by embarking on a path that turned out to be rather perilous for some of his peers in our tropics. But much more than legality, it is the legitimacy of such a candidacy that should question the Senegalese head of state. This, in view of the continuing deterioration of the socio-political situation in his country where the violence following protest demonstrations has sometimes resulted in loss of life. Suffice to say that, insofar as he is in the perspective of a third term, Macky Sall must measure all the issues of his candidacy before jumping into the water. And it would be well advised to learn from the experience of his predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, who had embarked on the same tortuous path and who lost power under the conditions that we know. This, for his good, and that of all of Senegal. Because, if some eleven months before the presidential election, knives are drawn between political actors even though he has not yet clearly pronounced on the question, what will happen if, at the last moment, President Sall decided to cross the red line of this famous candidacy for a third term, who could decide other components such as civil society, which had remained rather discreet until then, to join the dance? Senegal does not need that.

In any event, the sentencing of Ousmane Sonko, who was found guilty of defamation, with a two-month suspended sentence, plus a fine of 200 million FCFA, does not end the debate, since the case of the masseuse who pursues him for rape and death threats “, is still pending before the Justice which, by not following the Public Prosecutor’s Office which had requested a sentence of two years in prison, one year of which is firm, removes, so to speak, an argument for the supporters of the opponent, to doubt his independence. She instead cut the pear in half.

The country “