Senegal President Macky Sall has reportedly pardoned one of his chief political rivals, the former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, who was put behind the bars in 2018 on corruption charges, reported Reuters.
Khalifa Sall, who is no relation to the Senegalese president, was arrested back in March 2017 for alleged embezzlement of $3 million (£2.4m) in public funds. In 2018, he was sentenced to five years in jail. The conviction barred Sall from standing in February’s presidential elections.
In fact, some people accused President Macky Sall of making up the charges to remove a political rival from contesting the presidential election that he won decisively in February this year. The Senegalese president has denied such charges, but the way his government treated Khalifa Sall sparked questions from international observers about the president’s dedication to free and fair elections.
A statement from the Presidency released on Sunday said Khalifa was pardoned with two others. His lawyers also confirmed the decision.
“It’s a salutary decision since he was arbitrarily imprisoned, but the fight is not over,” said Ousseynou Fall, Khalifa Sall’s lawyer. “We want an amnesty.”
Dakar’s current mayor, Sowam Wardini, thanked the president for the pardon.
“Khalifa Sall is returning to his family today,” the mayor said.
As per reports, he will be released soon.
Notably, former minister Karim Wade, son of Macky Sall’s predecessor as president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-12), was also among those who were prevented for standing for the presidency because of a fraud case.
He was jailed for six years in 2015 after having been detained for two years, and handed a fine of more than 210 million euros. After a three-year stint in prison he was handed a presidential pardon in June 2016. But, the constitutional court rejected his presidential election candidacy due to that conviction.
Senegal is one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. The country has never had a military coup like other African nations. It has seen two peaceful transfers of power following elections.