DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal's president has pardoned one of his main political rivals, the former mayor of Dakar, who was jailed in 2018 on corruption charges.

President Macky Sall on Sunday pardoned ex-mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall, along with two others. Sall, who is no relation to the president, left the Rebeuss prison Sunday. Hundreds of people came to cheer the popular politician upon his release.

Khalifa Sall was arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of embezzling 1.8 billion West Africa Francs ($3 million) in public funds. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail and lost his mayoral post last year.

Sall, in office since 2009, has denied the allegations, calling them politically motivated.

Supporters accuse the president of removing any major opponents ahead of February elections, which he won.