Senegal president fires popular Dakar mayor after conviction

Senegal's president, Macky Sall, on Friday sacked the mayor of Dakar, one of the country's most popular politicians, after an appeal court upheld a five-year jail term against him.

"Mr. Khalifa Abacar Sall has been relieved of his duties as mayor of the city of Dakar," a presidential decree said.

Sall, 62, on Thursday lost a legal battle to overturn a five-year sentence for fraudulent use of public funds, a charge that he denied and said was politically motivated.

The ruling bars Sall from running in presidential elections due next February if he fails to reverse the verdict at the Supreme Court. He shares the same family name as the president, but is not related to him.

The trial was closely followed, throwing a spotlight on Sall's popularity and stirring debate over next year's elections if he were to be convicted.

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A dissident member of the Socialist Party, Khalifa Sall began his political activism at the age of 11.

He later held various ministerial portfolios under then Socialist president Abdou Diouf before being elected mayor of the capital in 2009.

The charge of misappropriating public funds centred on 1.83 billion CFA francs ($2.85 million) of city money that prosecutors said was misused between 2011 and 2015.

The court heard allegations of a system of fake receipts for rice and millet, the money from which Sall was accused of using for "political purposes".

Sall said the money was not diverted for personal or political use but instead was used for discretionary spending on sensitive issues such as security.

The court of appeal also ordered him, alongside three other defendants, to pay 1.8 billion CFA francs (2.75 million euros).