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Senegal’s president calls for amnesty that could pave the way for challengers in 2024

DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegalese President Macky Sall has asked the Justice Ministry to look into an amnesty plan that could allow two of his biggest political opponents who were sentenced on corruption charges to regain their voting rights and potentially run for office. to the next presidential elections in 2024. .

Sall instructed the justice minister during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday night “to examine, as soon as possible, the possibilities and the appropriate scheme of amnesty for people who have lost their right to vote,” the minutes showed. the meeting.

He said his aim was to ease political tensions that have escalated in recent months, culminating in a tense legislative election and fights in parliament, but analysts said the move could be a ploy to split the opposition before the elections. 2024 elections.

Two of Senegal’s best-known opposition figures, former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, were jailed on corruption charges in 2018 and 2015 respectively.

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Both were released but barred from running in the 2019 election, which Sall won, and many have claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.

Since then, another opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, has risen to prominence and mobilized large protests against the ruling party, which lost an outright majority in parliament to an allied opposition coalition last month.

“President Macky Sall has to break this unity that is dangerous for him. Three (parties) in competition would be easier to confront than a single bloc,” said political analyst Mame Less Camara.

“With the possibility of the return of Karim and Khalifa, the hegemony of Sonko and Pastef (Sonko’s party) will necessarily be challenged,” said Mamadou Sy Albert, another political analyst.

Sall has avoided saying whether he plans to run himself in the 2024 election, which is part of what has fueled the protests in the past year. He has already served two terms, the constitutional limit, but other West African presidents have changed their constitutions so he can run for a third time.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Bate Felix and Chizu Nomiyama)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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