Dakar, Senegal – (African Boulevard News) – Opposition leaders in Senegal have called for nationwide protests following allegations of a plot to bar prominent opposition figure Ousmane Sonko from the upcoming presidential election. The opposition is calling for the removal of Interior Minister Antoine Diome, who they accuse of threatening to block Sonko’s candidacy.
The Senegalese presidential election is scheduled for February 2024, and Sonko, a former tax inspector, has been gaining popularity as he campaigns on an anti-corruption platform. However, opposition leaders fear that Sonko’s candidacy may be blocked by the government, which they say is attempting to rig the outcome of the election.
“We call on the Senegalese people and the nation’s active forces to mobilize so that, beyond the F24 march on the 12th (May 2024, ed.), the 19th will be a great demonstration to thwart all these machinations and to once again demand the establishment of independent and credible electoral lists,” opposition leader Mamadou Diop Decroix said at a press conference on Monday.
The opposition has accused Interior Minister Antoine Diome of threatening to block Sonko’s candidacy through the use of excessive force. The government has denied the allegations, and Diome has stated that he has no power to interfere in the electoral process.
“The government is not trying to prevent anyone from running for president. The allegations made by the opposition are baseless and without merit,” said government spokesperson Abdou Latif Coulibaly.
The opposition has called for nationwide protests on May 19, and has threatened further action if their demands are not met. The government has responded by increasing security measures in major cities, including the deployment of the police and military.
The situation in Senegal remains tense as the presidential election draws near. Sonko’s candidacy is seen as a major challenge to President Macky Sall, who is seeking a third term in office. While Sall remains popular, his government has been criticized for failing to address issues such as corruption and unemployment.
The opposition’s call for protests comes amid growing concerns over democratic backsliding in Africa, with several countries facing challenges to their electoral processes. It remains to be seen how the situation in Senegal will develop, but the outcome of the election will have significant implications for the future of the country and the region as a whole.