Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Calm returns to Senegal after days of violence that claimed 16 lives

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Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey is an experienced African journalist who has worked with top media brands in Ghana where he is based.

Calm has now returned to most streets of Senegal’s capital, Dakar after days of violence following the jailing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.

His supporters first clashed with the police on Thursday, after Sonko was convicted of “corrupting youth”.

On Saturday, the clashes continued into the evening. In residential neighbourhoods, protesters threw rocks at police, barricaded roads and burned tyres.

The army patrolled the streets as police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, inspecting and detaining people deemed to be causing trouble.

At least 16 people have died in the clashes with police saying they have arrested 500 people since Thursday. The Red Cross in Senegal also said almost 360 people were injured.

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Sonko was also acquitted on charges of raping a woman who worked at a massage parlour and making death threats against her.

Sonko not yet arrested

He was sentenced to two years in prison and his lawyers say a warrant had not yet been issued for his arrest.

Sonko came third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is popular with the country’s youth. His supporters maintain his legal troubles are part of a government effort to derail his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko is considered President Macky Sall’s main competition and has urged Sall to state publicly that he will not seek a third term in office. The international community has called on Senegal’s government to resolve the tensions.

Rights groups have condemned the government crackdown, which has included arbitrary arrests and restrictions on social media.

Some social media sites used by demonstrators to incite violence, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, have been suspended for nearly two days.

They have blamed the government for the violence and the loss of lives.

Corrupting young people, which includes using one’s position of power to have sex with people below the age of 21, is a criminal offence in Senegal, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.


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