He’s the primary opponent of Senegalese President Macky Sall. Former tax inspector, Ousmane Sonko desires to run for the presidency of Senegal in 2024. With the resumption of his defamation trial on Thursday, a local weather of pressure reigns within the nation.
He is likely one of the fundamental faces of the opposition. The voice of those that aspire to a renewal on the head of Senegal, led since 2012 by Macky Sall. Ousmane Sonko, who assumes the go well with and tie as a lot because the sneakers and the cap, enjoys important assist from the Senegalese inhabitants.
Ousmane Sonko, 48, is anticipated Thursday, March 30 on the Dakar court docket the place he’s being prosecuted for “defamation, insults and forgery” by the Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang. Already postponed twice, the trial provoked a wave of common protests to denounce an try and weaken the opponent forward of the elections. A conviction may forestall him from being a candidate within the presidential election of February 2024.
From tax official to distinguished determine
Nonetheless, just a few years in the past, he was unknown to the Senegalese political scene. Ousmane Sonko was born in 1975 in Thiès, 70 kilometers east of Dakar. The son of civil servant mother and father, he grew up in Casamance and went to do his increased schooling at Gaston-Berger College in Saint-Louis, the place he obtained his grasp’s diploma in public legislation in 1999. Two years later, he graduated prime of his class on the Nationwide Faculty of Administration (ENA) in Senegal and started his profession as a tax inspector.
After three years within the administration, he created the Autonomous Union of Tax and Property Brokers (SAID). It was in 2014 that he entered politics with the creation of his personal get together, the Pastef (Patriots of Senegal for work, ethics and fraternity).
In 2016, he was thrust into the limelight when he accused the state of tax evasion and corruption based mostly on his expertise as an inspector. The official denounces particularly embezzlement of public funds or tax benefits obtained in an undue method by personalities in energy. He printed “Petrole et gaz au Sénégal – Chronique d’une spoliation” (ed. Fauves) during which he denounced the administration of the nation’s pure sources by the president and his entourage.
He was then faraway from the general public service for “breach of obligation of reserve” by a presidential decree. “It was actually at the moment that he grew to become a number one determine,” says Babacar Ndiaye, director of analysis and publications on the assume tank Wathi, based mostly in Dakar.
Determine of a youth in the hunt for change
Elected deputy in 2017, he’s snug on tv units and smiling throughout conferences with activists. Ousmane Sonko is aware of find out how to use surprising phrases, and opposes the official narrative of a Senegal “on the best way to emergence”, promise of President Macky Sall.
In 2019, he launched into the race for the presidential election. His speech seduces the youth. “He addresses younger folks with remarks in favor of financial sovereignty, patriotism, whereas criticizing the governance of the State”, continues Babacar Ndiaye. “He arrived with a speech for change and this met with a type of assist from younger folks. And above all, he isn’t a “politician”. However his detractors criticize him for his lack of expertise and his sensational speeches.
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On February 24, 2019, he completed in third place within the presidential election with 15.67% of the vote, behind outgoing President Macky Sall and former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck.
Court docket circumstances, a “sword of Damocles”
In February 2021, the opponent was accused of rape and demise threats by Adji Sarr, an worker of a magnificence salon. He denies the details after which denounces a political maneuver. His arrest provoked violent clashes between his supporters and the police. The wave of protests is on an unprecedented scale for this West African nation famend for its stability. Launched beneath judicial supervision in March 2021, Ousmane Sonko claims to be the sufferer of “a state plot” initiated by kin of President Macky Sall.
This doesn’t forestall Ousmane Sonko from persevering with his rise in politics. In 2022, he was elected mayor of Ziguinchor, after having fashioned the coalition Yewwi Askan Wi – YAW, Liberate the folks within the Wolof language – with a number of members of the opposition, together with the previous mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall.
Ace of social networks, Ousmane Sonko speaks very recurrently stay on his Fb web page to achieve a big section of the Senegalese inhabitants, making the remainder of the political class and his strategies of communication old school. Removed from the digital, Ousmane Sonko additionally is aware of find out how to provoke crowds.
Mehdi Ba, who has interviewed him twice for Jeune Afrique in recent times, describes him as a “leftist sovereignist”. The journalist explains: “The tone of his political discourse is somewhat left – even when the right-left subdivision just isn’t present in Senegal – and on the identical time sovereignist, since he places ahead the pursuits of Senegal in worldwide stage and people of the folks on the nationwide stage”.
In August 2022, he’s a candidate for the subsequent presidential election in February 2024. If Ousmane Sonko is on the rise, we should not overlook “the sword of Damocles which hangs over his head due to the 2 authorized circumstances that are aimed toward him and will, within the occasion of conviction, result in his ineligibility in 2024”, remembers Mehdi Ba.
“He may very well be Senegal’s subsequent head of state”
If Ousmane Sonko is ready to run for president in 2024, “he may very well be Senegal’s subsequent head of state”, thinks Nicolas Normand, former French ambassador to Dakar. Supplied that the youth go to the polls. Past his contestation of the financial and social scenario, Ousmane Sonko “exploits a widespread resentment, which wants scapegoats being the Senegalese authorities, and France, the principle financial associate”, he continues. In January, the opponent had firmly denied an “anti-French” feeling on France 24: “We now have nothing in opposition to France”.
In current weeks, supporters of Ousmane Sonko have taken to the streets on a number of events to denounce a trial which they describe as an try by the federal government of President Macky Sall to weaken the opposition forward of the elections. Violence erupted on March 16, when police used tear fuel in opposition to his supporters who adopted his car to court docket. “These troubles promote Sonko,” assures Nicolas Normand. “He exploits all of the clumsiness of energy to his benefit.”
Following a name to display, supporters of Ousmane Sonko gathered on Tuesday March 29 within the college campus of Dakar. “We witnessed a face-to-face between the scholars and the massively deployed safety forces with stone throwing in opposition to tear fuel canisters”, testifies the France 24 correspondent on the spot, Sarah Sakho. In accordance with Mehdi Ba of Jeune Afrique, Ousmane Sonko “is somebody who, since 2021, has examined the repressive limits of the Macky Sall regime. Amongst his detractors, some accuse him of being a provocateur and of going too far. And he criticize for attempting to achieve the breaking level past which issues may spiral uncontrolled.” The Worldwide Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expressed “its deep concern on the intensification of the repression in opposition to members of the political opposition and journalists”, calling on the authorities to “assure respect for human rights and elementary freedoms”. What give weight to the opponent Ousmane Sonko.