Senegalese opposition leader urges mass protest against president's third term

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Popular Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko called on the public on Sunday night to “come out en masse” ahead of a speech in which President Macky Sall is expected to announce whether he will seek a controversial third term.

“We must come out to confront the Macky Sall regime and say that it is not up to him to choose the candidates that will face each other in the next presidential election,” Sonko said on social media.

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Sonko was sentenced in early June to two years in prison for “corrupting” a young woman, sparking protests that left at least 16 people dead.

The conviction makes him ineligible to stand in next year’s presidential elections.

Sonko has claimed that the court case was engineered to prevent him from running, a charge authorities deny. He has been blocked in by the authorities at his home -- or “illegally held”, according to him -- since May 28.

Sall, meanwhile, was first elected in 2012 and again in 2019.

While the constitution stipulates that a president cannot serve more than two terms, his supporters present him as their candidate for 2024 and argue that a constitutional revision in 2016 reset the counter to zero.

Sonko said that if he is arrested, “I call on all the Senegalese people to stand up as one and come out en masse and this time put an end to this criminal regime”.

If the president announces his candidacy for a third mandate, he added, “I believe it’s incumbent on all the Senegalese people to stand up, to face him”.

“If we have to put up a fight, it must be definitive... The days and weeks to come will be crucial,” he added.

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