On Thursday, a Senegalese court found opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who is running for president in 2024, guilty of “corrupting youth” and sentenced him to two years in prison, but cleared him of accusations of rape and threatening to kill people.
Ndeye Khady Ndiaye, the proprietor of the beauty parlor where Sonko was charged with routinely abusing a worker, was also given a two-year prison term along with Sonko.
The two-year-old case has severely polarized the West African nation and sparked unrest that has damaged its reputation for stability.
Much attention has focused on whether Sonko, if convicted, would be technically barred from contesting next year’s vote.
If Sonko had been convicted in absentia of a crime such as rape, he would have been stripped of his electoral rights.
“Corrupting youth” — debauching or encouraging the debauchery of a person under the age of 21 — is a lesser offence than rape, a lawyer present at the hearing, Ousmane Thiam, told AFP.
Even so, his conviction also appears to threaten his eligibility, according to Senegal’s electoral code.