By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | DAKAR, 3 June 2023 (IDN) — Are Senegalese President Macky Sall’s moves against a credible opposition candidate sparking an uprising among Senegalese youth that has already cost more than a dozen lives and the deployment of Army soldiers and riot police?
That’s the question being pondered now in this deeply religious West African nation known for music and art across Africa and around the world.
The students have been protesting government threats to jail popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, facing a two-year jail sentence on charges of “corrupting youth” linked to the rape of a 21-year-old massage parlor attendant.
Under Senegalese law, a conviction would bar Sonko from running in next year’s election. Sonko, 48, denies the charges against him.
Violence broke out this week in parts of Dakar and in the southern city of Ziguinchor where Sonko is mayor.
Protestors reportedly smashed windows and looted at least two gas station shops overnight in Dakar’s Ouakam and Ngor districts, while a supermarket in densely populated Grand Yoff was torched and ransacked. Rubble litters the roads that were scarred black by fires.
The United Nations, the African Union and West Africa’s main regional bloc have condemned the violence. France urged restraint and dialogue to resolve the crisis.
Amnesty International has called on the government to investigate Thursday’s deaths and avoid using force disproportionately.
Currently, Government is brushing aside the violence. “If demonstrations had remained peaceful … there would be no issue,” said spokesperson Maham Ka, calling the events “gratuitous violence” and congratulating security forces for their interventions.
Sall, who was elected in 2012, has disappointed young people when promises to create jobs were not fulfilled. He also stifled opposition criticism, critics say.
Meanwhile, social media and messaging platforms have been blocked, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Telegram, TikTok, WhatsApp and YouTube.
“Young people are motivated, they will not let this go,” Cheikh Hann, told Reuters. “The government cannot eliminate opponents.”
The case has been adjourned until May 23. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Army troops were deployed the Senegalese capital Dakar on 2 June as the city braced for more unrest after a jail sentence for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Source: France 24
IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.
We believe in the free flow of information. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, except for republished articles with permission.