A court in Senegal has handed down a two-month suspended prison sentence to leading opposition politician Ousmane Sonko for libel, his lawyers said. The court in the capital, Dakar found him guilty on Thursday of defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, whom he accused of embezzlement.
The sentence will not prevent Sonko from running in presidential elections next year – an apparent effort by authorities to defuse a standoff with his supporters, who have repeatedly taken to the streets to denounce what they say is a politically motivated campaign.
Still, a spokesperson for Sonko’s party expressed disappointment with the outcome of the trial, Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reported from Dakar.
“He [Sonko] is disappointed that he is convicted for what he thinks is just him telling the truth [about the tourism minister],” said Haque.
However, a spokesperson for the governing party termed the verdict a “victory for democracy, rule of law, and the justice system”, added Haque.