Senegalese opposition leader Sonko is in intensive care, attorney says

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko addresses journalists in Dakar, March 8, 2021. [AP photo]

Detained Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, who eight days ago resumed a hunger strike, is "very weak" and in an intensive care unit, one of his attorneys told AFP on Wednesday.

Sonko briefly fell into a coma on October 23, Cire Cledor Ly said, adding that he had been able to speak with the politician a day earlier.

He said Sonko regained consciousness the same day, but remained frail.

"The situation is alarming - the doctors are giving him treatment that he is unable to refuse," Cledor Ly said. "I launch a solemn appeal to the head of state, because he has the means to put an end to this situation."

Sonko, who intends to contest the presidential election in February, has accused President Macky Sall of using legal procedures to torpedo his political career, an accusation the president denies.

Sonko has faced a series of legal battles over the past two years.

He was arrested and imprisoned on a string of charges in July, including fomenting insurrection, criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise and undermining state security. over incidents dating to 2021.

He began a hunger strike on July 30 but called it off on September 2 at the request of influential religious leaders, according to people close to him.

He had already been admitted to an intensive care unit in August but resumed the strike on October 17.

In May, he was handed a six-month suspended sentence in a defamation case.

On June 1, he was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for morally corrupting a young person, sparking fatal clashes.

His name was removed from electoral lists following that conviction. A judge last week ruled against his removal from the lists, but it is still not guaranteed that he will be able to run next year.

The General Directorate of Elections has refused to issue him sponsorship forms, arguing that the judge's decision was "not final."

Sall announced in July that he would not seek a third term, which many argued would have been unconstitutional.