Two Senegalese opposition deputies were sentenced to six months in prison on Monday for physically assaulting a deputy.
In a case that sparked a heated debate about democracy in Senegal, pro-government lawmaker Aimé Ndiaye was beaten and then kicked in the stomach during a chaotic session of the National Assembly.
MPs Mamadou Niang and Massata Sambe were each sentenced to six months in prison following a trial that began on 19 December.
They were also fined 100,000 CFA francs ($150) and awarded five million francs in compensation.
The attack took place on Dec. 1 during a routine Justice Department budget vote.
It was triggered by comments Ndiaye made about Serigne Moustapha Sy, an influential Muslim leader who supports the opposition but is not a member of parliament.
After the order was restored, Ndiaye collapsed and was treated at the hospital lawyer for her, Baboukar Cisse, said she was pregnant and there were fears she might lose the baby.
Cisse said she has now left the hospital but is “still in a very difficult situation”.
The incident sparked a heated debate over parliamentary rhetoric and attacks on women. This significantly coincided with an awareness campaign against domestic violence.
Senegal is widely considered a beacon of stability and democracy in West Africa – a region notorious for coups and dictatorships.
The July general election resulted in a virtual tie, requiring President Macky Sall’s party to form a coalition to stay in power.
Sall was elected to a seven-year term in 2012 and re-elected to a five-year term in 2019. He has not disclosed his plans for the next presidential election, scheduled for 2024.
Niang and Samp, who were arrested on Dec. 15, did not appear in court.
“They will remain in prison pending an appeal,” one of their lawyers, Abdi Nar Ndiaye, told AFP.
They denied targeting lawmakers, despite video evidence to the contrary.
Their lawyers argued that the two had immunity from prosecution because of their status as lawmakers, but this was challenged by the court.