Senegal protests escalate as opposition chief seems in courtroom

Ousmane Sonko has denied wrongdoing and says accusations in opposition to him are politically motivated.

Police have clashed with protesters in a number of neighbourhoods of the Senegalese capital Dakar, together with in entrance of a courthouse the place an opposition chief made his first look since his arrest on a rape cost.

A lawyer for Ousmane Sonko stated he was being charged with rape and making threats, allegations which have led to clashes since his arrest on Wednesday between his supporters and police in a number of cities, with at the least one particular person reported killed.

Sonko, a 46-year-old tax inspector with a powerful following among the many youth, has denied wrongdoing and says accusations in opposition to him are a part of a sample by the authorities of utilizing legal costs to dam opponents from standing in elections.

Authorities have responded to the protests by curbing entry to the web and suspending broadcasting by two non-public TV channels that coated the protests. On Friday in addition they banned bikes and mopeds, common amongst Sonko’s younger political base, from the streets of the capital.

000 94D4F2A person takes out cable from a burned automotive left after protestersreached the central enterprise district in Dakar [John Wessels/AFP]

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar, stated: “We have navy which have been deployed in key strategic areas, particularly people who result in the presidential palace.

“The challenge ahead for the security forces to prevent any type of looting that we saw late last night where protesters attacked supermarkets, gas stations and also ATM machine trying to get cash,” he added.

Internet monitor NetBlocks stated social media and messaging apps together with Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube had been restricted early on Friday. Bracing for violence, some faculties and outlets had been shut.

Police in full protecting gear guarded the courtroom in Dakar as Sonko appeared earlier than a decide. The listening to will proceed on Monday.

United Nations consultant within the area Mohamed Ibn Chambas in a press release on Friday referred to as for restraint and calm, and urged the Senegalese authorities to “take the necessary measures to ease tensions.”

A resident advised Reuters information company {that a} pandemic-linked curfew and common dissatisfaction with President Macky Sall was additionally elevating public anger.

“I don’t think things will be calm. People are rising up,” stated 24-year-old style employee Souleymane Diallo.

Accusation of rape

An worker of a magnificence salon accused Sonko final month of raping her. He says the case was trumped as much as undermine him. Parliament stripped him of his immunity as a legislator final week.

The opposition fears the case is an try by Sall to take away a doubtlessly common rival if he decides to hunt a 3rd time period in 2024.

Other rivals have been focused by legal costs prior to now, together with former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade, eliminating them from the 2019 presidential race.

The authorities denies the political motivations behind the case. Sall, 59, in energy since 2012, has not commented on reviews he would possibly search a 3rd time period regardless of a constitutional two-term restrict.

Rights Group Amnesty International expressed concern over the authorities’ dealing with of the state of affairs, citing a wave of arrests, using dwell weapons and the suspension of the broadcasters.

“We call on the Senegalese authorities to respect the freedom of peaceful assembly throughout the country,” Amnesty’s regional director Samira Daoud stated in a press release.