Senegal still under tension after the conviction of Ousmane Sonko

Senegal has been under tension since Thursday and the announcement of the two-year prison sentence for political opponent Ousmane Sonko. In Dakar, clashes opposed small groups of very mobile young demonstrators to the police on Friday evening, in the suburbs of the capital and in the south of the country. No incident had been reported by the Interior Ministry on Saturday afternoon.

“On June 2, six deaths were recorded, including four in the Dakar region and two in the Ziguinchor region,” said the Ministry of the Interior, bringing to 15 the number of deaths since the beginning of the tensions. Many public and private properties were ransacked, including banks and Auchan stores in the suburbs of Dakar. Burned tires and stones littered the roadway of several streets on Saturday morning.

Several social networks, such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter, are cut, a government measure to stop, according to him, “the dissemination of hateful and subversive messages”. The army deployed this Saturday, as the day before, around strategic points. Police and gendarmes are also present in large numbers in the capital.

A political affair?

The Senegalese hold their breath in fear of an arrest of the opponent Ousmane Sonko, declared presidential candidate of 2024, and sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for having pushed to “debauchery” a young woman under 21 years old. This decision makes him ineligible for the time being. Ousmane Sonko has been crying out from the start of the case for a plot by President Macky Sall to eliminate him politically, and says he is “sequestered” in his Dakar residence by security forces who prevent anyone from approaching.

Ousmane Sonko can now be arrested “at any time”, said Justice Minister Ismaïla Madior Fall. His party, the Pastef, called “to amplify and intensify the resistance (…) until the departure of President Macky Sall”, of which he accuses the regime “of bloody and dictatorial excesses” on Friday in a press release. For the government spokesperson, the events since Thursday are not “a popular demonstration with political demands”, but rather “acts of vandalism and banditry”. “We are faced with thugs recruited to maintain an artificial tension. They will continue to do their job, but time is on the side of full recovery and the maintenance of public order,” he told the newspaper. The Observer.

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