]Senegal President Macky Sall pardoned a chief political rival, the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall jailed in 2018 on corruption charges.
Khalifa Sall, no relation to the president, was arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of embezzling 1.8 billion CFA francs ($3 million) in public funds. Last year he was sentenced to five years in jail.
He was pardoned with two others, according to a statement from the Presidency. Khalifa Sall’s lawyers confirmed the pardon.
“It’s a salutary decision since he was arbitrarily imprisoned, but the fight is not over. We want amnesty,” said Khalifa Sall’s lawyer, Ousseynou Fall.
With four largely peaceful transitions of power since independence from France in 1960, Senegal is seen as democratically stable in a restive region.
The president’s political opponents saw Khalifa Sall’s imprisonment as a political hit job based on false charges to keep a popular politician out of a presidential election Macky Sall won decisively in February.
Macky Sall denied the charges, but his treatment of Khalifa Sall raised questions among international observers about the president’s dedication to free and fair elections.