Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has been denied permission to leave Senegal following a court ruling by Judge Abdoulaye Assane Thioune on Friday.
Sonko was to attend a conference scheduled for this week in Lome, Togo’s capital, after being invited by Togolese economist Kako Nubukpo.
In a statement announcing the decision of the Senegalese judiciary, Ms Khoureyssi Ba, Sonko’s lawyer, said that “nothing justifies the refusal pronounced Friday 21st May by Justice Abdoulaye Assane Thioune”.
Sonko, a fierce critic of President Macky Sall, was arrested in March and later freed. His arrest sparked deadly protests across the country in which at least six people were killed.
The 46-year-old opposition leader who is very popular among young people in Senegal was accused of rape by a masseuse at a salon he visited in Dakar. He denied the rape charges. His party maintained the rape allegations against him were political.
Senegal enacted a landmark legislation making rape a criminal offence last year. Survivors of alleged sexual assault however rarely denounce men by name. All of this changed when Adji Sarr publicly accused Ousmane Sonko of raping her.
But, in a political twist, many people turned against Sarr and defended Sonko, after the politician claimed President Macky Sall had a hand in fabricating the charges against him in a bid to stop the political movement against his rumoured unconstitutional bid for a third term.