Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

DAKAR, Senegal — The variety of folks killed in days of clashes between Senegalese police and supporters of opposition chief Ousmane Sonko has now risen to fifteen, together with two safety officers, the federal government stated on Saturday.

Whereas Dakar was calmer on Saturday, clashes continued into the night. In residential neighborhoods, protesters threw rocks at police, barricaded roads and set tires on hearth. The military patrolled the streets as police fired tear fuel on the demonstrators, inspecting and detaining folks deemed to be inflicting hassle.

Residents peered over the rooftops of buildings, each shielding for canopy and watching the clashes.

The clashes first broke out on Thursday, after Sonko was convicted of corrupting youth however acquitted on fees of raping a lady who labored at a therapeutic massage parlor and making dying threats towards her. Sonko, who didn’t attend his trial in Dakar, was sentenced to 2 years in jail. His lawyer stated a warrant hadn’t but been issued for his arrest.

Sonko got here third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is fashionable with the nation’s youth. His supporters preserve his authorized troubles are a part of a authorities effort to derail his candidacy within the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko is taken into account President Macky Sall’s important competitors and has urged Sall to state publicly that he gained’t search a 3rd time period in workplace.

The worldwide group has referred to as on Senegal’s authorities to resolve the tensions. France’s ministry for Europe and overseas affairs stated it was “extraordinarily involved by the violence” and referred to as for a decision to this disaster, in line with Senegal’s lengthy democratic custom.

Rights teams have condemned the federal government crackdown, which has included arbitrary arrests and restrictions on social media. Some social media websites utilized by demonstrators to incite violence, corresponding to Fb, WhatsApp and Twitter have been suspended, for almost two days.

The U.S. State Division issued a press release deploring the violence.

“Senegal’s sturdy file of democratic governance, rule of legislation, and peaceable coexistence is one thing for which the Senegalese folks might be rightfully proud. We urge all events to voice their views in a peaceable method,” departmental spokesperson Matthew Miller stated.

Senegalese are blaming the federal government for the violence and the lack of lives.

One girl, Seynabou Diop, instructed The Related Press on Saturday that her 21-year-old son, Khadim, was killed within the protests, shot by a bullet to the chest.

“I really feel deep ache. What’s taking place is difficult. Our kids are dying. I by no means thought I’d need to undergo this,” she stated.

This was the primary time her son, a disciplined and type mechanic, had joined within the protests, dashing out of the home as quickly as he heard Sonko was convicted, she stated.

“I believe Macky Sall is accountable. If he’d talked to the Senegalese folks, particularly younger folks, possibly we wouldn’t have all these issues,” stated Diop. The Related Press can’t confirm the reason for dying. The household stated an post-mortem was underway.

Corrupting younger folks, which incorporates utilizing one’s place of energy to have intercourse with folks underneath the age of 21, is a felony offense in Senegal, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail and a wonderful of as much as $6,000.

Underneath Senegalese legislation, Sonko’s conviction would bar him from operating in subsequent yr’s election, stated Bamba Cisse, one other protection lawyer. Nonetheless, the federal government stated that Sonko may ask for a retrial as soon as he was imprisoned. It was unclear when he could be taken into custody.

If violence continues, it may threaten the nation’s establishments, say analysts.

“By no means of their worst types of nightmare (would) Senegalese have considered witnessing the prevailing types of apocalyptic and irrational violence,” stated Alioune Tine, founding father of Afrikajom Middle, a West African assume tank.

“Essentially the most shared feeling in regards to the present scenario is concern, stress, exhaustion and helplessness. Thus what the folks are actually looking for for is peace,” he stated.

The West African nation has been seen as a bastion of democratic stability within the area.

Sonko hasn’t been heard from or seen for the reason that verdict. In a press release Friday, his PASTEF-Patriots get together referred to as on Senegalese to “amplify and intensify the constitutional resistance” till President Sall leaves workplace.

Authorities spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana stated the harm attributable to months of demonstrations had price the nation thousands and thousands of {dollars}. He argued the protesters themselves posed a menace to democracy.

“These calls (to protest), it’s a bit just like the anti-republican nature of all these actions that conceal behind social networks and don’t consider within the foundations of democracy, that are elections, freedom of expression, but additionally the sources that our (authorized) system gives,” Fofana stated.

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