Senegal’s 2024 Presidential Race in Turmoil as Opposition Candidate Sonko’s Bid Rejected

In a significant development ahead of Senegal’s 2024 presidential election, the State has rejected the candidacy deposit of key opposition figure Ousmane Sonko. This decision adds to the political tension simmering in a nation already grappling with economic and social unrest.

The rejection, which hinges on Sonko’s removal from the electoral lists, was confirmed after the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) returned his deposit check of 30 million FCFA (45,000 euros). Mactar Diop, CDC’s communications manager, stated that Sonko did not receive the necessary sponsorship forms, a prerequisite for candidacy, thus deeming him ineligible for posting bail​​.

This latest twist in Senegal’s political narrative follows Sonko’s two-year imprisonment sentence for debauchery of a minor. Despite his camp’s assertion that the accusations are part of a broader scheme to exclude him from the election, the judiciary has consistently denied these claims​​. In the wake of his sentencing, Sonko’s PASTEF party called the verdict a political plot, inciting citizens to protest, reflecting growing public frustration with President Macky Sall’s administration​​.

A file photo showing Ousmane Sonko (centre), president of the opposition party Senegalese Patriots for Work, Ethics and Brotherhood (PASTEF), waving goodbye to his supporters at a school in Ziguinchor, Senegal on July 3, 2022. © Muhamadou Bittaye, AFP

The fallout from this controversy has been stark. Violent protests have erupted across Senegal, including in the capital, Dakar, where demonstrators clashed with riot police, leading to several deaths and arrests. Social media and messaging platforms faced restrictions, hindering public communication​​​​​​.

Sonko, popular among the country’s youth and considered a main contender against President Sall, faces legal challenges that put his candidacy in jeopardy. His lawyers argue that the conviction, especially given in absentia, unfairly impacts his eligibility​​.

The current situation casts a shadow over the democratic process in Senegal. With more than 200 candidates declared for the presidential election, and President Sall not seeking re-election, the political landscape remains volatile and uncertain.

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