19 October 2011

Alert

Opposition activist charged for libeling President Wade


Incident details

Arrest, Charges laid

Malick Noël Seck, Activist

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(MFWA/IFEX) - An opposition activist who petitioned Senegal's constitutional court on April 11, 2011 not to accept the candidacy of incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade for the 2012 presidential election is facing three counts of libeling the head of state, contempt of court and issuing death threats.

Malick Noel Seck, General Secretary for the Socialist Convergence Youth, a movement of the Senegalese Socialists Party, appeared in court in Dakar, the capital, on October 14, 2011. He had been in detention at the Criminal Investigations Department since his arrest on October 11.

In an open letter to the constitutional court, Seck and his group reportedly wrote: "When we take to the streets, we will come in bigger numbers for you to account for your actions. Life is expensive, and so is death. Joining forces in this situation requires dignity. No one will say we did not give you the opportunity to take a united stand with us."

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that at the trial on October 18, the court refused to grant Seck bail and fixed October 20 as the date on which it would make its decision.

The correspondent said the prosecutor demanded a 5-year term of imprisonment for Seck.

However, El Hadji Diouf, lead counsel for Seck who had described the whole trial as "ridiculous" and as a tool aiming to to intimidate the Senegalese people, pleaded for an outright acquittal of his client.

President Wade has come under intense pressure in recent months after his unsuccessful bid to amend the country's constitution in order to extend his stay in power. A number of protestors - journalists, musicians, rights defenders and many others - have been attacked for protesting the move.

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