DAKAR (AFP) – The former mayor of former Dakar, Khalifa Sall, was hailed by jubilant supporters as he crossed the Senegalese capital in a convoy during the night following his release from prison.
President Macky Sall pardoned his former political rival, who had been sentenced for fraudulent use of public funds, the presidency announced on Sunday.
The move surprised many Senegalese, although it comes amid a de-escalation of political tensions.
Khalifa Sall, no relation to the president, has been in jail since March 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison in August 2018.
He was therefore barred from taking part in the presidential election in February.
As the news of the pardon spread, hundreds of his supporters gathered late Sunday outside the Rebeuss prison in Dakar, from where he emerged a few hours later.
They then accompanied his convoy across several neighbourhoods of the capital, including Grand Yoff, the electoral stronghold of the 63-year-old socialist, AFP journalists said.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, witnesses and local media said.
The former mayor at times emerged from his car, raising his arms in a sign of victory. After a brief stop in front of the new Grand Mosque in Dakar, inaugurated on Friday, the convoy arrived in the middle of the night in the district of Parcelles Assainies, where his mother lives, according to the Senegalese media.
Khalifa Sall, 63, served as Dakar mayor from 2009 till 2018 when the president removed him from office.
A presidential decree made public on Sunday said Macky Sall has “totally annulled his sentences”. Two of his co-accused were also pardoned. “I thank the head of state (Macky Sall) who had promised me this release,” said Sowam Wardini, who took over as Dakar mayor from Khalifa Sall.