Senegalese opposition politician charged over remarks against president

Leader of Senegal’s Pastef party and Yewwi Askan opposition coalition Birame Diop was charged with “acts likely to compromise the public peace and offend to the Head of State” earlier this week over his remarks at a July 4 press conference.

Following President Mackey Sall’s announcement that he would not run for a controversial third term, Diop compared Sall to Ivorian President Alassane Quattara, who re-ran for president after saying he did not want a third term. Sall said at a press conference: “I warn the next candidates of the APR: Avoid eating at his house, avoid drinking his water, he is capable of poisoning you and saying: as we no longer have a candidate, I will be back. And to do it a la Quattara. Beware.”

Shortly after his remarks, Diop made an apology.

Yewwi Askan views his arrest and charges as arbitrary and abusive. The coalition released a statement in a bid to defend Diop, who they feel has suffered intolerance and injustice. According to Article 61 of the Senegalese Constitution, it is stipulated that no member of the National Assembly may be prosecuted or arrested as a result of their opinions during the exercise of their functions. Furthermore, they may not be arrested without the authorization of the National Assembly except in cases of flagrant offenses. Yewwi Askan has therefore asked authorities to suspend Diop’s prosecution and detention.

Additionally, Yewwi Askan alleged that Diop’s arrest is one of a “long list of arbitrary arrests and detentions of deputies of this 14th legislature,” all of whom belong to Yewwi Askan.