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Opponent Ousmane Sonko, who has been denouncing his detention since the end of July and who resumed his hunger strike eight days ago, is in a “very weak” state in an intensive care unit of a hospital in Dakar, said his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday.
“He fell into a coma on October 23. He regained consciousness the same day but he is in a very weak condition. Care continues,” declared Me Ciré Clédor Ly, who said he was able to speak with his client on Tuesday.
“The situation is alarming,” he said. “The doctors are giving him treatment that he is not able to refuse,” he said.
“I launch a solemn appeal to the head of state because he has the means to put an end to this situation ,” he added.
Candidate for the February 2024 presidential election, Mr. Sonko, 49, third in the 2019 presidential election, accuses President Macky Sall, who denies it, of wanting to exclude him from the ballot through legal procedures. Mr. Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, announced in early July that he would not run again.
After a conviction for defamation against a minister, Mr. Sonko was found guilty on June 1 of debauchery of a minor and sentenced to two years in prison. Absent at the trial, he was convicted in absentia and then removed from the lists.
A judge in Ziguinchor (south) canceled the removal from the lists last week but the opponent’s candidacy is still far from guaranteed. The General Directorate of Elections, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior, refuses to issue the forms to be used to collect the sponsorships necessary for a candidacy, arguing that the judge’s decision “is not final”.
Mr. Sonko was imprisoned at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist enterprise and endangering state security.
He had started a hunger strike which, according to those close to him, he ended on September 2 to respond to calls emanating in particular from very influential religious leaders in Senegal, after being admitted to the intensive care unit in a hospital.
The Senegalese authorities had cast doubt on this hunger strike.