By Riches Soberekon
Senegal’s Supreme Court made a significant decision on Friday regarding the eligibility of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko in the upcoming presidential election. The court overturned a previous ruling from the Ziguinchor court, which had allowed Sonko to be reinstated as a candidate. Supreme Court president Ali Ciré Ba stated that the case would be retried in the Dakar tribunal hors-classe.
Last month, the Ziguinchor court overturned the removal of Sonko from the electoral rolls, clearing the way for him to participate in the February 2024 presidential election. This decision positioned him as one of the main contenders in the race. However, the State decided to appeal against this ruling, leading to the recent decision by the Supreme Court.
The retrial means that the sponsorship process, a crucial step in the presidential candidacy, might face timing challenges. The sponsorship collection period is set to take place from December 11 to 26. Sonko’s lawyer, Babacar Ndiaye, expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision, emphasizing that the sponsorship process would soon conclude.
Although the Ziguinchor court’s decision provided Sonko with the opportunity to collect sponsorships, the Ministry of the Interior has withheld the official forms needed for this process. They argue that the Ziguinchor judge’s ruling was not final. The Supreme Court did not impose a specific deadline for the Dakar court to reach a new verdict, but it deemed the Ziguinchor judge’s decision irregular.
In another setback for Sonko, earlier in the day, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in Abuja delivered a blow to his candidacy. Sonko has long claimed that there is a political plot orchestrated by President Macky Sall to marginalize him. These recent legal developments have added further complexity to the political landscape as Senegal prepares for the upcoming presidential election.