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In Senegal, the strange “assassination attempt” of Ousmane Sonko


Ousmane Sonko was not present on Thursday March 30 to hear the judge sentence him to a two-year suspended prison sentence for “defamation” against the Minister of Tourism, Mame Mbaye Niang. This time, he was not prevented from leaving his home by the police, as was the case on March 15. According to his lawyers, who brandished a medical certificate during the hearing, the main opponent of the country could not move to “health reasons”.

Since the previous hearing held on March 16, Mr. Sonko has complained of having been the victim of a “assassination attempt”. He appeared the same evening from a bed at the Suma Assistance clinic in Dakar, where he then remained hospitalized for five days. The police “sprayed me with liquid at point-blank range. An extremely toxic liquid that produces both respiratory effects, effects on the eyes, effects on the skin, effects on the digestive system. These products, we do not yet know exactly what it is »did he declare.

Read also: In Senegal, Ousmane Sonko’s camp under threat of arrest

According to him, biological analyzes were sent abroad to identify the nature of the product used. The results are expected in the coming days. A group of parliamentarians, including deputy and activist Guy Marius Sagna, filed a complaint against various state authorities for “attempted poisoning and assassination of Ousmane Sonko, his lawyer Me Ciré Clédor Ly and deputy Guy Marius Sagna. »

Faced with these repeated accusations, “the public prosecutor at the Dakar court has self-seized” and an investigation was opened and entrusted to urban security, according to Ibrahima Bakhoum, public prosecutor at the Dakar Court of Appeal. He considers that he has not obtained “from the medical profession relevant elements that can inform us about the reality or not” of one “assassination attempt”.

Mr. Bakhoum then explained in detail how the investigators had identified a person who can be seen, on a video, handing a scarf soaked in liquid to Mr. Sonko. A scene that takes place in the crowd: the opponent, sitting in his car, is on his way to court, accompanied by many activists who are seen dispersed with tear gas by the police.

“harmful substance”

“If there has been harm to the physical or health integrity of Mr. Sonko, the only track” is only one “nobody gave, on the theater of the demonstrations, a scarf containing a liquid”, says Mr. Bakhoum. Since then, this individual who claims to be an activist of Mr. Sonko’s party has been “pending deferment” for alleged facts “administration of a substance harmful to health”he adds.

But for Ousmane Sonko, there is a mistake about the culprit. “The arrested person is a little brother” and this man has “only stretched out a handkerchief soaked in vinegar” to counter the effect of tear gas. That’s not a “ ordinary citizen. It is an element of the BIP [Brigade d’intervention polyvalente, unité d’élite de la police] that I myself saw the liquid sprinkled”did he declare.

Read also: In Senegal, Ousmane Sonko against Macky Sall or the strategy of tension

This is not the first time that Ousmane Sonko has said he has been the victim of an assassination attempt. Since 2021, his party The African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (Pastef) has repeatedly denounced attempts “poisoning” of its leader, who believes that he is the target of relentless power. Charges swept away by the executives of the ruling coalition. With the presidential election to be held in less than a year, the political climate is increasingly tense. President Macky Sall refuses for the moment to say whether he will run for a third term and Mr. Sonko, a popular tribune with nationalist speeches, appears to be his most serious rival.

The case of the “assassination attempt”, which makes the headlines in the press, could it settle down after the opponent’s two-month suspended prison sentence? By not making the president of Pastef ineligible, it could announce the beginning of a calm. The appeasement will depend on the decision of the Court of Appeal, which Minister Mame Mbaye Niang has decided to seize. But also from another file: Mr. Sonko is also charged in a case of rape on Adji Sarr, an employee of a massage parlor. He continues to denounce a plot to remove him from the presidential race. Nevertheless, he lifted the call to demonstrate throughout the national territory on April 3, the eve of the Senegalese national holiday.