AP and Reuters

Senegal opposition leader Sonko charged with plotting insurrection


Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko speaks during a news conference in Dakar, Senegal March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Cooper Inveen//File Photo

Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was charged on Saturday with plotting an insurrection, criminal conspiracy and other offenses, two months after his trial for a separate rape charge sparked deadly riots across the country.

Sonko, 49, was handed a two-year prison sentence on June 1 for immoral behavior towards individuals younger than 21, leading to protests in which at least 16 people were killed.

His followers have been angered by the prospect that his conviction could bar him from standing in next year’s presidential election, though lawyers say the issue is ambiguous.

Sonko was detained on Friday following a scuffle with security forces stationed outside his home, who he claimed were filming him without permission. He remains in custody, state prosecutors said on Saturday.

Playing videos from a laptop of Sonko making allegedly inciteful speeches, Senegal’s state prosecutor Abdou Karim Diop told a crowded press conference that Sonko would be freshly charged with calling for insurrection, plotting against the state and criminal conspiracy, among other charges.

Neither Sonko’s Friday arrest nor the new charges are linked to his conviction in June. He has not been asked to plead in the new case.

Sonko denies wrongdoing. His legal team could not be immediately reached for comment.

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