Home POLITICS SENEGAL – Ousmane Sonko: “El Fenomeno”

SENEGAL – Ousmane Sonko: “El Fenomeno”

Ousmane Sonko

Ousmane Sonko is not a candidate for Parliament. Yet, he revolutionizes the Senegalese political sphere with a capital touch: a coherent discourse. For this pan-Africanist who proclaims himself a disciple of Thomas Sankara and other enlightened pan-Africans, He did not hesitate to rename the streets of Ziguinchor as a tenant of the Mayor’s chair in this city of southern Senegal as soon as he got to the head of the Town Hall of this region of southern Senegal. The legislative elections of 31 July 2022! Throughout this election campaign, at the head of the opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi with Wallu Senegal of former president Abdoulaye Wade, we faced a political event unprecedented in Senegal. The ruling party lost the presidential majority in the National Assembly, from 125 deputies in 2017, to 82 deputies in 2022.

Ousmane Sonko, a charismatic leader
After the 2019 Senegalese presidential election, he reached the third place on the podium of this election mass, after Macky Sall of the APR and Idrissa Seck de Rewmi. A new air blows in the political sphere, the man who wants to destroy the system that crushes the wheel of change, begins to take a place in the visual horizon of Senegalese, but also he begins to convince by his speech that according to him is there to “Turn on the brains” and especially to encourage young people to take an interest in political matters. President Macky Sall, despite his victory in these elections, now has in front of him a radical opponent without concession. He’s here in the ring to box with the system.

Legislative of 31 July 2022
During the campaign for the 2022 general elections, Ousmane Sonko, the president of the Pastef, covered the latter with his aura of magnetism. It’s the excitement every time he comes into a city. A people as drunk with her stature, her charisma or her talent as a speaker, follows her from one place to another without running out of breath, always with joy and a smile on her lips coupled with a dose of determination in their ultimate summons of change. The activists wait for him in the rain, in the sun, in the wind, they are there to applaud him, to celebrate him with moving songs in the language “Joola” “Oyee…. Oyayee… Biyee Jàmbee diyaala Kaasaa foning Kelu tole pareeta Biñoona Sonko Binaala », chansons frémissant tous les corps et fredonnées un moment donné par Sonko lui même, devenu subitement le chef d’orchestre comme pour ressusciter cet héritage du guerrier africain en terre casamançaise, who had chased the invader once. A proud people cheers him to encourage him, to support him, to accompany him. Like a tide it raises, the leader Ousmane Sonko leaves no city indifferent. At each of his passages, wherever he passes, he leaves his mark, feeling at home everywhere because he has family ties throughout the Senegalese territory. How did this fallen enamel manage to build such a solid reputation in such a short period of time?
In this month of August 2022, the Senegalese people shudder with the same expectation: the results of the legislative elections held on July 31, 2022. This election comes at a time when the image of President Macky Sall’s political power is severely tarnished by a record inflation rate. The country, tired and breathless, is waiting for a providential savior. A surname name: Ousmane Sonko. The very young deputy mayor of Ziguinchor has, it must be believed, the wind in its sails.

Ousmane Sonko is 48 years old, born in 1974 in Thiès. Gifted and studious, he obtained a master’s degree in law that brought him into the National School of Administration of Senegal. He graduated major in 2001 and was sent to the Pikine Tax Services Centre. While working his way up through the ranks, he pursued studies in finance and law. A fervent unionist, he found it difficult to remain calm in the face of injustice. He was entitled to friendly advice: he was suggested to temper his ardour. And as he remains deaf to the good friendly advice of his hierarchy, the government takes out its trump card: the ultimate sanction. And what a sanction! His removal by President Macky Sall from the ranks of the public service. The Republic tolerates badly the impertinences of a small official.

The young lion, freed from the mors of the “duty of reserve”, uncovers, without coded language, the methods of personal enrichment of Senegalese political personalities. He cracks myths, overturns the codes of the establishment with two books: “Oil and Gas in Senegal: Chronicle of a Spoliation” and “Solutions”. The people fall under the spell of this young, thrilling man, who tries to disclose the facts that the Senegalese state conceals and that the media ignore. In the face of what he calls the bad governance or even the mismanagement of public funds by the ruling party of President Macky Sall, the fearless does of unpacking, attacking and preaching. Its objective is that all the people of Senegal, whatever their background, be informed of what is happening in the highest spheres of the country in a direct language.

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Ousmane Sonko: the fiercest opponent of Macky Sall’s regime
After his dismissal for “breach of the duty of reservation”, Ousmane Sonko set up Atlas, a study and legal and tax consultancy firm and jumped into politics. The one whom all the Senegalese press considers, perhaps because of his outspokenness, as the most fierce opponent of the regime of Macky Sall, begins by creating his political party in 2014: Patriotes du Sénégal, pour l’Éthique et la Fraternité, in short PASTEF. Successively MP (2017) and Mayor (2022).

Before the 2019 elections, Ousmane Sonko was seen as an outsider, far behind opposition leaders like Karim Wade of the Senegal Democratic Party, the PDS and Khalifa Sall of the Socialist Party, the PS. By disqualifying the latter two from the political arena: exile in Qatar for the first and prison for the second, President Macky Sall did not imagine that he was feeding underground the one who was going to become his worst nightmare. Seeing the monster grow before his eyes, he’s going to try to put a stop to it. In February 2021, Adji Sarr, a Dakar masseuse, is going to accuse her of having been “raped four times”. The Senegalese justice tried to bring him down, he yelled at the “plot”, at a “political liquidation” and invoked “parliamentary immunity”. This will not change anything, his parliamentary immunity will be unjustly waived according to his lawyers, he is arrested a month later, an arrest that will put the country on top.

The social climate worsened. A demonstration broke out. Muscular bludgeoning. Shooting. 14 dead and hundreds injured. The facts are reclassified as a disturbance of public order”. Nice legal sleight of hand, he will be released and put under judicial supervision. This episode, against all expectations, boosts even more the popularity of young Sonko among the Senegalese population who, like him, think that the current power is trying to liquidate any opponent of the central regime of Dakar. The Senegalese people refuse to allow Senegalese President Macky Sall to reduce the opposition to its rightful expression. They’re going to go to the legislative polls to tell him through the ballot boxes. The ruling party lost the presidential majority in the National Assembly, from 125 deputies in 2017, to 82 deputies in 2022.

An Assembly with a new face
Political cataclysm! The news is not good for the presidential coalition, despite the victory. The presidential camp, “Benno Bokk Yakaar” in the lead, loses its absolute majority. Something new in Senegalese political history. See a party in power being bullied by a brand new political party “Yewwi Askan Wi”? Never seen before, writes Rémy Ngono on his Facebook page: “A young opponent who beats the party of the president of the republic in power to the legislative!!! Only in Senegal can we see this in French-speaking Africa. Bravo Ousmane Sonko!”. During this campaign, the coalition machine led by Ousmane Sonko was far too oiled. At each gathering – giant -, from Saint-Louis to Dakar via Ziguinchor, the public chanted only one (on) name: “El Fenomeno”. He has criss-crossed Senegal. Wherever the political beast has gone, he has drained a phenomenal world. Many young people came to listen to him and thus nailing Macky Sall to the pillory.

The alliance led by this young leader, awakener of consciences, showed an impressive force of mobilization.

The games are over. The results now have the clarity of Niagara Falls: the president no longer has the country’s opinion with him. The presidential coalition, despite a high number of deputies, appears to be the big winner of these legislative elections. The Senegalese National Assembly is now preparing to cheer on new heads wearing their new parliamentary slings. They deserve well. Among the new faces, some are well known in the Senegalese political landscape: activist Guy Marius Sagna, mayor Barthélémy Dias and many others. Anonymous people like Oumar Sy seem to have already chosen their side, that of the opposition Yewwi Askan Wi. However, the young 30-year-old Sokhna Ba has not yet decided anything. Among those to whom the power makes eyes soft, the young journalist Pape Djibril Fall is in good place. Pape Diop, the former mayor of Dakar has already given his signal, he joined Benno Bokk Yakaar.

The appointment is given in 2024, a crucial political appointment for the Senegalese people who must choose their fifth president.


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