Senegal's Ousmane Sonko Ends Hunger Strike but Remains Ineligible to Stand for Election

Ousmane Sonko (file photo).

Jailed Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, an aspiring presidential candidate and head of state Macky Sall's fiercest critic, ended a hunger strike Monday.

"Ousmane Sonko has just suspended his hunger strike," the spokesman for his Pastef party, El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, announced on Facebook and Twitter.

Le président @SonkoOfficiel vient de SUSPENDRE sa grève de la faim.-- El Malick NDIAYE (@elmaalignjaay) September 2, 2023

Two of his lawyers confirmed the end of the hunger strike late on Saturday.

Sonko "ha[s] exhausted his reserves", according to his lawyer Me Ciré Clédor Ly, and clinical care may be no longer be enough to keep him alive.

Sonko began the hunger strike on 30 July to protest political oppression by the government in power in Senegal.

He was hospitalised on 6 August and admitted to an intensive care unit, according to his lawyers and party.

They had warned at the time that his health had seriously deteriorated and that his life was in danger.

Legal problems

Ousmane Sonko has faced a string of legal problems since 2021 which, he claims, are designed to keep him out of politics.

He was sentenced in absentia on 1 June to two years in prison for "morally corrupting a young woman", a conviction that makes him ineligible to stand in next year's election.

In a separate affair, he was arrested again in late July and charged with crimes including fomenting insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and undermining state security over incidents dating back to 2021.

His party, Pastef, was suspended.

He was arrested again on 28 July and placed in detention.

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