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Once convicted of "corruption of minors," Ousmane Sonko will not be able to participate in the 2024 presidential elections.
On Thursday, Ousmane Sonko, the leader of the Senegalese opposition, was convicted of corruption of minors after being tried on May 23 for allegedly raping a young masseuse. This verdict would disqualify him as a candidate in the upcoming elections.
The Prosecutor's Office had requested a ten-year prison sentence for rape against Sonko, or five years for corruption of minors, and an additional year for acts of threats and death.
The court's verdict also sentenced the owner of the beauty salon where the alleged rape occurred, Ndèye Khady Ndiaye, to two years in prison. She was charged with incitement to debauchery, dissemination of immoral images, and complicity in rape.
Sonko was acquitted of the charges of rape and death threats that he had been accused of, and Ndiaye was acquitted of complicity in rape.
This trial against the opposition leader took place after a young masseuse named Adji Sarr accused him in early 2021 of "repeated rape" and "death threats."
Sénégal : la tension monte à mesure que la caravane d'Ousmane Sonko avance vers la capitale. L'opposant a entrepris de rejoindre Dakar à la tête d'un convoi populaire. Le gouvernement a promis la fermeté en cas de non respect de l'ordre public. pic.twitter.com/a8BRasZes8
The tweet reads, "Senegal: Tension mounts as Ousmane Sonko's caravan advances towards the capital. The oppposition politician vowed to reach Dakar leading a people's convoy. The Government promised firmness in case of breach of public order."
Since then, the case has been generating controversy and tensions in the country, with Sonko's supporters believing that the judicial process aims to disqualify him as a candidate for the presidential elections in February 2024.
The verdict was announced amidst protests by his supporters, while Sonko has been under house arrest since Sunday, surrounded by law enforcement forces.
This prosecution came after the opposition leader was sentenced on May 8 to a six-month suspended prison term for defamation and public insults against a Senegalese minister, accusing him of corruption.
Sonko's arrest in March 2021, when he was on his way to appear in court for the masseuse case, surrounded by a crowd of supporters, led to violent protests that resulted in at least fourteen deaths, twelve of them from gunfire.
Known for his anti-system rhetoric, the opposition leader criticizes misgovernance, corruption, and French neocolonialism, and he has many followers among the Senegalese youth.