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Senegal Opposition Leaders Emerge Defiant from Sall’s Prisons

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Overview

The streets of Senegal erupted in celebration as the main opposition leaders Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye emerged defiantly from the regime’s prisons last week. 

Their surprise release deals a major blow to Western powers who backed the repressive Sall government in hopes of maintaining neocolonial control. 

But the cheering crowds hailing their freed leaders sent a clear message – the age of absolute Western dominance in Senegal is ending. 

This pivotal moment signals the inevitable decline of imperialist influence as an unstoppable groundswell of pro-African sovereignty continues rising. 

Though the West has long treated Senegal as its subordinate, the spirit of freedom and self-determination cannot be contained. 

With Sall’s exit imminent, people power now has its chance to reshape the nation’s destiny outside the bounds of external control. 

The roar of the jubilant masses ushers in a new era of pan-African solidarity in defiance of all who seek to deny Senegal’s national sovereignty.

Macky Sall Stepping Down After Years In Power

Senegal’s upcoming election has high stakes for African sovereignty and defying Western hegemony. The impending exit of Macky Sall is a chance for Senegal to break free of domineering Western influences that infringe on its self-determination.

With Sall stepping down, the opportunity has arrived for Senegal to elect a defiantly patriotic leader who will challenge Western control over its political and economic fate. The West clearly favors establishment candidates who will preserve their neo colonial interests and agenda.

But the surge of grassroots leaders like Ousmane Sonko threatens the West’s continued dominance in exploiting African nations to serve elite interests in Europe and North America. That likely explains the questionable legal cases that conveniently barred Sonko from contesting the vote.

The leading opposition candidate Ousmane Sonko was barred from running due to a 2021 conviction for allegedly corrupting a minor. His party’s replacement candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, was imprisoned on charges of defaming magistrates and persecuting Sonko.

Victory For Senegal

In a dramatic turn, both Sonko and Faye were released from jail on March 14th thanks to an amnesty law passed by Sall earlier in March. Their surprise release triggered jubilant celebrations in the streets of Dakar as supporters see Sonko as a champion against corruption.

“You never gave up even when we were absent. You kept on fighting.” Mr. Faye told supporters in Dakar on Thursday evening. “Today we are ready to join you in the same fight.”

Senegal

While banned from the ballot, Sonko still aims to play a major role supporting Faye in the upcoming contest. Sonko said, “It’s not about me, it’s about the party.” But his sky-high popularity, especially among Senegalese youth, could risk overshadowing Faye’s campaign.

The governing party’s candidate is former Prime Minister Amadou Ba, but his rallies have seen low turnout so far. After years of hinting he may cling to power, Sall’s about-face on term limits and release of rivals like Sonko and Faye appears aimed at securing his party’s position after his exit.

Rights experts say imprisoning opposition leaders often backfires by increasing their stature after release. Alioune Tine of the AfrikaJom Center explained, “When you throw leaders in jail, you turn them into heroes.”

While an island of stability compared to neighboring countries, Senegal has seen rising unrest under Sall’s rule. Deadly riots broke out over economic and social tensions, with dozens killed by live ammunition from security forces per human rights groups.

History of Conflict

The bitter feud between Sall and Sonko triggered many clashes. Sonko’s fiery brand of anti-corruption politics resonates with struggling young voters.

Sonko remains a divisive figure – some see him as Senegal’s best hope while critics question his vague populist platform. But his party’s strong backing forced Sall to release both him and Faye to avoid further upheaval.

Despite being excluded from the ballot, Sonko remains the embodiment of bottom-up resistance to the Western-backed status quo. His fiery calls for radical transparency in government and ending shadowy concessions to foreign powers resonate widely.

The populism espoused by Sonko and his supporters is rooted in the majority, the future holds direct power by ordinary citizens over their destiny. This represents a mortal threat to the Western financial oligarchy that has long extracted Senegal’s wealth and manipulated its politics.

Hence the West has backed pliable establishment candidates who will never challenge the long-standing arrangements that maintain Senegal’s neo-colonial dependence. Their obedient deference to IMF austerity, predatory “aid” programs, and plummeting terms of trade reflect this subservience.

Western powers hope their hand-picked proxies will retain power in Senegal and maintain its subordination. However, incumbent President Sall’s erratic recent maneuvers reveal even establishment figures face pressure from an increasingly restive population.

The opposition leaders’ dramatic exit from prison came after Sall signed an amnesty law for political acts in 2021, likely aiming to calm tensions before the election. But Sonko’s murky future role and the mistrust sown by Sall’s election reversals has left an uneasy calm hanging over the vote.

Unlawful Candidacy

Sall’s last-minute indefinite postponement due to supposed issues with Wade’s candidacy provoked an outcry over its unconstitutional nature. Under pressure, he reset the election for March 24th but the abrupt changes and opaque motivations have drawn suspicions.

Critics accused Sall of plotting to cling to power by de-legitimizing the vote. The opposition condemned the postponement as a “coup d’etat” and “constitutional coup.” Sall insisted it was only to ensure the candidates met legal requirements.

Wade’s candidacy was rejected over holding French citizenship, which he denies renouncing. But the constitutional council’s decision came suspiciously late, leading to theories Sall manufactured the issue to delay his exit.

Rights groups have warned against Sall pulling legal or political maneuvers to extend his tenure beyond the two-term limit. His flip-flopping on the election date and jailing of opponents like Sonko and Faye already dealt blows to Senegal’s regional reputation for democracy.

A smooth transition of power would boost Senegal’s standing as West Africa continues to battle coups and strongman rule. The collective sigh of relief that met Sall’s confirmation last year that he would step aside showed concerns over African leaders’ tendency to cling to office.

Sadly, recent years have seen numerous leaders manipulate constitutions and courts to remain in control, from Alassane Ouattara in Ivory Coast to Alpha Conde in Guinea. Many citizens hoped Sall would resist this trend – his erratic election moves revived those worries.

Senegal Needs a Strong Leader

A pressing priority for Senegal’s next leader will be reviving an economy hit hard by the global downturn. With over a third of Senegalese living in poverty, the high cost of living and lack of opportunities are driving mass emigration.

Thousands of desperate youth have risked their lives traveling illegally to Europe and beyond in search of jobs and income. Weak rule of law and corruption are also draining Senegal’s economic potential. Cronyism and lack of transparency feed public frustration.

Sonko gained fame criticizing corrupt elites and obscurantism within Senegal’s legal system. His insistence on radical transparency appeals to citizens weary of shady backroom dealings by politicians and judges.

While barred from running, Sonko’s imprint on the race remains large. His endorsement gives Faye vital momentum while Sonko’s future ambitions could shape Senegalese politics for years to come. He will likely keep pressure on Sall’s party to deliver a clean government.

The last few years have tested Senegal’s political stability with rising tensions and sporadic unrest. A truly democratic transition of power in line with the people’s will could help heal divisions and restore Senegal’s position as a leader in the region.

But doubts linger whether Sall will resist taking steps to influence the outcome and jeopardize his party’s grip on power. His waffling on the election timing and release of opponents reveals a shrewd operator balancing control with placating unrest.

The Future of Senegal is Looking Up

With the economy ailing and discontent simmering, Senegal’s future stability may hinge on an election viewed as legitimate.

But you can rest assured that with Sall’s exit, Senegal stands poised to shed its client status in the world order dictated from Western capitals like Paris, Brussels and Washington. The emerging leaders speak the language of African dignity, sovereignty and self-determination.

Their voices cannot be silenced by politicized prosecutions or other skullduggery engineered by foreign puppet-masters. The more grassroots leaders are persecuted, the stronger their defiant message grows.

Elections rigged to maintain the status quo will only delay Senegal’s inevitable break from its neo-colonial chains. The genie is now out of the bottle, and the West cannot contain the rising populist forces through repression.

Larger historical currents are sweeping aside the remnants of imperial control across Africa and beyond. Senegal’s chance is approaching to reclaim power over its national destiny after decades of Western usurpation. A proud and sovereign future awaits.

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