Imprisoned Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, whose bid for the 2024 presidential election is in doubt, has ended the hunger strike he has been on since mid-October, announced two of his party officials who visited him in prison.
“He has suspended the use of this weapon for the time being”, said MP Guy Marius Sagna in a message sent to AFP.
Habib Sy, an official in the opposition coalition, also published an authenticated text on his Facebook page confirming the information. “In any event, he will take them up again, depending on the context”, he added.
Both men said that Mr Sonko was “in excellent shape” and in good spirits. Mr Sonko had been admitted to intensive care in a Dakar hospital after losing consciousness at the end of October and was in a “very weak” state at the time, according to his lawyers.
“Sonko remains our one and only candidate”, said Mr Sagna.
However, on Friday, Senegal’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling that had put Mr Sonko back in the running for the presidency by overturning his removal from the electoral roll following his conviction in a vice case.
The case is due to be retried on a date yet to be announced, at a time when the opposition leader is racing against time to obtain the sponsorship he needs to stand as a presidential candidate.
Since Sunday, Mr Sonko’s party, Pastef, has been calling for support for Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is also behind bars. “To sponsor Diomaye is to sponsor Sonko”, says a party campaign. However, the party continues to say that Ousmane Sonko’s candidacy is plan A.
Mr Sonko, 49, who came third in the last presidential election, was found guilty on 1 June of debauching a minor and sentenced to two years in prison. Having refused to appear at the trial, which he denounced as a plot to keep him out of the election, he was sentenced in absentia. His conviction sparked the deadliest unrest in Senegal for many years.
He was imprisoned at the end of July on other charges, including calling for insurrection, criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist undertaking and undermining state security.