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Senegal Sall Pushes for Opposition Amnesty


President of Senegal Macky Sall addressing the 77th session of the General Assembly, Sept. 20, 2022.

The President of Senegal, Macky Sall this week called on the country’s justice ministry to investigate granting amnesty to his political opponents who are serving sentences for corruption.

For more on Sall’s attempts to grant amnesty to his political opponents, VOA’s James Butty spoke with Ibrahima Kane, a Senegalese political analyst.

The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: Tell us more about President Macky Sall’s push to grant amnesty to his political opponents

Kane: This amnesty was already foreseen because Macky Sall used to say that he is not against it, but the question is what is the amnesty for?

According to the law one must make sure that the facts presented that led to someone facing trial and imprisonment, are now considered null and void, which will allow one to restart their “normal life.”

The question that needs to be addressed is, which facts will be amnestied.

Amnesty may benefit opposition leaders such as former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, but it will also benefit people on the other side, because many of them were involved in crimes, such as incarcerated members of parliament linked to trafficking of passports, money laundering and other crimes.

File – Khalifa Sall, former representative of Senegal’s main opposition “Benno Siggil Senegaal" addresses a press conference in Dakar, March 19, 2009
File – Khalifa Sall, former representative of Senegal’s main opposition “Benno Siggil Senegaal" addresses a press conference in Dakar, March 19, 2009

This is why it is important for us to know which facts are amnestied so we know if President Macky Sall is being genuine or if this is a political strategy leading to the next general election.

VOA: Do you think talks of granting amnesty are linked to the possibility of President Macky Sall re-running for the presidency?

Kane: When looking at this through the lens of Senegal’s political context, you would argue that this is President Sall’s strategy to avoid going head-to-head with Sonko (a rising opposition politician), because so far, all the elections held in Senegal are increasing Sonko’s popularity because Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade cannot legally participate in the elections.

FILE - Senegalese's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko who was charged with rape, talks to media at his party's headquarters after being freed from detention, March 8, 2021
FILE - Senegalese's opposition leader Ousmane Sonko who was charged with rape, talks to media at his party's headquarters after being freed from detention, March 8, 2021

VOA: Does this amnesty cover Sonko?

Kane: It probably will, but there is also a possibility that it will not.

I say that because we do not know which facts will be amnestied.

One of the cases that Sonko is facing is personal and regards his relationship with a particular lady. Since we do not know which facts are covered, I cannot answer that question.

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