The Movement for the Defense of Democracy (M2D), which brings together opposition parties and civil organizations in Senegal, announced Saturday that it will temporarily suspend the protest marches against the country’s president, Macky Sall, in order to facilitate a negotiated solution to the very serious political crisis that the country is going through.
The bloc has thus accepted the request made by one of the most important religious figures in the country, the caliph of the Muridi Brotherhood, Serigne Mountakha Mbacké, who has received in return a request of ten demands from the opponents to be delivered to President Sall, among them “the immediate and unconditional release of the imprisoned political prisoners”.
These releases should begin, they added, with that of the great opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, whose arrest was the trigger for the wave of violence that is ravaging the African country.
Sonko, leader of the Senegalese Patriots for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF), called on the president not to run in the next elections in 2024, to immediately release the “political prisoners” and to “open an independent investigation into the violence during the demonstrations”.
The opponent, who came third in the 2019 presidential elections, was arrested on March 3 for “disturbing public order” when he was on his way to a court in the capital, Dakar, to appear on these charges brought against him for rape and death threats, for which he has been charged.
The arrest came after some twenty opposition parliamentarians lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court against the removal of Sonko’s parliamentary immunity, which paves the way for legal proceedings against him. The protests for his release have left between five and eleven dead and more than 600 injured in the country.
In this regard, and as reported by Radio France International, the M2D calls for the immediate cessation of “the political-judicial conspiracy fomented against him” and the commitment of the authorities “not to promulgate the slightest accusation against him”.
M2D also calls on the head of state to publicly commit to hold local elections in 2021, parliamentary elections in 2022 and presidential elections in 2024 on “free and democratic terms”, and to “publicly recognize the moral and constitutional impossibility” of running for a new mandate.