Opposition Leader's Hunger Strike: Intensive Care Alarm Bells in Senegal
Opposition Leader's Hunger Strike: Intensive Care Alarm Bells in Senegal

Dakar: Ousmane Sonko, the incarcerated opposition leader of Senegal, has been admitted to intensive care on Thursday, marking nearly three weeks into his hunger strike protesting against criminal charges brought by the Senegalese government, according to his political party.

Sonko was taken into custody on July 31 in anticipation of his impending trial, where he faces accusations including incitement to insurrection, conspiracy against the state, and other alleged offenses.

Having been hospitalized at Dakar's Main Hospital since August 6 due to the deteriorating effects of his hunger strike, Sonko's condition worsened as he fainted during the night. Consequently, he was swiftly transferred to an intensive care unit within the same hospital, eventually regaining consciousness on Thursday. El Malick Ndiaye, spokesperson for the now-disbanded Patriots of Senegal party led by Sonko, provided this update.

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In the past five days preceding this incident, Sonko had declined medical assistance despite his declining health. However, his supporters are now striving to convince him to reconsider his hunger strike, citing the critical nature of the situation. Ndiaye emphasized the urgency, stating, "We're making every effort to persuade him to halt, as it's a matter of life or death."

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In a distressing parallel, three additional detainees who had also embarked on the hunger strike alongside Sonko are currently under intensive medical care.

Sonko achieved the third position in Senegal's presidential election of 2019 and enjoys considerable popularity among the nation's youth. His advocates argue that the charges brought against him, ranging from allegations of rape and death threats to defamation and conspiracy against the state, are part of a larger government scheme aimed at obstructing his potential candidacy in the 2024 presidential race.

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Human Rights Watch has appealed for the reinstatement of Sonko's political party. While the Senegalese government contends that the party was dissolved on the same day Sonko was arrested, his supporters continue to dispute this move.

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