Supporters of opposition coalition C25 and the Socialist Party (PS) rallied outside the Supreme Court building in Dakar on Thursday, January 3, following the high court's verdict upholding former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall's five-year prison sentence. Sall, seen as the leading opposition candidate in the February 2019 presidential elections, was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2018 on fraud charges and subsequently barred from running for the presidency.
Leaders of the C25 coalition subsequently announced a "One Million March" demonstration in Dakar on Tuesday, January 8, beginning at 15:00 (local time). A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are to be expected in the capital. Further protests are possible in the coming days and weeks.
Sall, a leading politician in the opposition coalition and mayor of Dakar, has been in prison since March 2017 on embezzlement charges. He was nevertheless elected to parliament in July 2017, without being able to take his seat. In November 2017, the National Assembly lifted Sall's parliamentary immunity, allowing his trial to proceed and prompting his supporters to stage a series of protests throughout Dakar. On August 30, 2018, the Court condemned him to five years in prison and on August 31, he was dismissed from the mayor's position. Opposition leaders and monitoring groups have accused the government of jailing Khalifa Sall to block him and other opposition candidates from running for president in the February 24, 2019, general elections. Another leading opposition figure, former Minister Karim Wade, will also be unable to contest President Macky Sall in the upcoming elections due to convictions.
Individuals in Senegal are advised to monitor updates to the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, and anticipate transportation disruptions and a heightened security presence in the event of protests.
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