Mbeki commends Senegal’s Sall for pardoning Sonko

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Former President Thabo Mbeki has commended Senegal President, Macky Sall for pardoning opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko under political amnesty.

Sonko was arrested and convicted last year of corrupting the youth.

His sentence sparked the biggest demonstrations in the history of Senegal, resulting in the deaths of people and hundreds arrested.

However, Sonko is now eligible to participate in the upcoming Presidential election in Senegal on the 24th of March.

Mbeki says Senegal has a working democracy.  He was speaking during the engagement with students at Unisa, Pretoria.

Senegal holds a delayed election on March 24 to elect a successor to President Macky Sall, who is stepping down after two terms.

Youth unemployment 

Successive administrations have struggled to curb youth unemployment – an increasingly urgent issue for its fast-growing population, more than 60% of whom are now under the age of 25.

The share of young Senegalese not in employment, education or training stood at 35% in 2019. Since then the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has further squeezed the job market.

Frustration at the lack of opportunities has spurred support for opposition firebrand Ousmane Sonko, particularly among the young. He is not running, but has called for supporters to back Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is seen as a strong contender.


Many voters hope that whoever of the 19 candidates wins the presidency will make it easier to find work and earn a living in Senegal, curbing the flow of Senegalese risking their lives in the quest for better prospects abroad. -Additional reporting by Reuters