Senegal’s Leading Opposition Politicians Freed from Jail Just Before Election

Two opposition party politicians were released from jail in Senegal on Thursday night, just 10 days before a nationwide election in which one of them is running for president.

Hundreds of supporters celebrated in the streets of Dakar after Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s foremost opposition leader, was freed along with Bassirou Diomaye Faye, his party’s candidate in the election on March 24.

“You never gave up even when we were absent. You kept on fighting.” Mr. Faye told supporters in Dakar on Thursday evening. “Today we are ready to join you in the same fight.”

The release is the latest in a series of unexpected moves by the incumbent president, Macky Sall, who cited allegations of corruption when he announced last month that he was canceling the election. Facing a backlash, he reversed course and set the election for Sunday, March 24 — just nine days before his term ends.

After years of hinting that he might run again, Mr. Sall finally confirmed last July that he would step down after his two terms were up.

Senegal, a coastal West African nation of 17 million people, is seen as a bastion of democracy relative to some of its West African neighbors, which are ruled by military juntas following a spate of coups in recent years.

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