Senegal’s Ousmane Sonko hospitalised after one week on starvation strike | Politics Information

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Opposition leader’s now-dissolved party says he was admitted for emergency care to a hospital in downtown Dakar.

A Senegalese opposition leader who has been on a hunger strike in protest against his detention has been admitted to hospital, according to his supporters.

Ousmane Sonko was hospitalised on Sunday at the Main Hospital in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, according to a statement from his now-dissolved party, the Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF).

Sonko, 49, was arrested on July 28, and has been charged with plotting an insurrection, undermining state security and criminal association with a terrorist body.

He began his hunger strike two days later.

PASTEF said Sonko had been admitted for emergency care and held the authorities “responsible” for his condition.

“Prior to his imprisonment, he was in good health and had no known illnesses,” it said.

Cire Cledor Ly, one of Sonko’s lawyers, confirmed the hospitalisation to the AFP news agency but did not discuss his condition.

There was no immediate comment from the Senegalese government.

Sonko, who placed third in the West African country’s presidential election in 2019, is popular with the country’s youth.

His arrest and the dissolution of his party ignited deadly protests in Dakar last week. At least two people died during the unrest, while several others were wounded, according to AFP.

The moves also came weeks after a judge convicted Sonko, in a separate case, of corrupting youth and sentenced him to two years in prison. That conviction sparked clashes that left 16 dead according to the government, 24 according to Amnesty International and 30 according to PASTEF.

Sonko’s supporters maintain the charges against him are part of a government effort to derail his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.

Separately, Sonko’s lawyer, Juan Branco, has been arrested in Mauritania, extradited to Senegal and is now in a Dakar prison, according to officials.

Branco’s lawyer, Robin Bindard, said on Sunday that his client is being held for alleged dissemination of false information, conspiracy against the state and other charges.

“The mission of a lawyer is sacred and you can’t reproach a lawyer for defending his client,” he said.

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