The government said on Saturday that 15 people, including two security officers, have died in the clashes between Senegalese police and followers of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. These clashes have been going on for several days.
Some parts of the city were still fighting Friday night, with protesters throwing rocks, setting cars on fire, and destroying stores while police fired tear gas and the government sent in tanks with the military.
Sonko was found guilty of corrupting youth on Thursday, but he was found not guilty of raping a woman who worked at a massage business and threatening to kill her. Sonko was given a two-year prison term, even though he didn’t show up to his trial in Dakar. His lawyer said that a warrant for his arrest hadn’t been made out yet.
The tweet below verifies the news:
At least 15 people killed in Senegal as opposition leader’s supporters clash with police – https://t.co/9XwX1xwVbt
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 3, 2023
Sonko came in third place in Senegal’s 2019 presidential race, and the country’s young people like him. His fans say that his legal problems are part of a plan by the government to stop him from running for president in 2024.
Sonko is seen as President Macky Sall’s biggest rival, and he has asked Sall to openly say that he won’t run for a third term.
The government of Senegal has been asked by the rest of the world to stop the fighting. France’s Ministry for Europe and foreign affairs said it was “extremely concerned by the violence” and called for an end to the crisis in line with Senegal’s long history of democracy.
Rights groups have spoken out against the government’s crackdown, which includes arrests made for no reason and limits on social media. Some social media sites, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, that protesters used to stir up violence have been shut down for almost two days.
Senegalese people say that the unrest and deaths are caused by the government.
Seynabou Diop told The Associated Press on Saturday that a bullet to the chest killed her 21-year-old son Khadim during the protests.
“I feel deep pain. It’s hard what’s going on. Our kids are passing away. She said, “I never thought I would have to go through this.”
She said this was the first time her son, a responsible and kind mechanic, had joined the protests. He ran out of the house as soon as he heard Sonko was found guilty, she said.
“I believe Macky Sall is to blame. “Maybe we wouldn’t have all these problems if he had talked to the Senegalese people, especially the young people,” said Diop. The Associated Press can’t find out what killed the person. The family said that an exam was already happening.
Senegal has a law against corrupting young people, which includes having sex with people under 21 while in a position of power. This is a crime that can lead to up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $6,000.
According to Senegalese law, Sonko wouldn’t be able to run for office next year if he was found guilty, said Bamba Cisse, another defense lawyer. But the government said that once Sonko was in jail, he could ask for a new hearing. It wasn’t clear when he would be arrested.
Analysts say that if the bloodshed keeps up, it could threaten the country’s institutions.
Alioune Tine, who started the Afrikajom Center, a West African think tank, said, “Senegalese would never have dreamed that they would live through apocalyptic and irrational violence.”
“The most common feelings about what’s going on right now are fear, worry, exhaustion, and feeling like you can’t do anything. So, now what the people want is peace,” he said.
People in the area have thought of the West African country as a stronghold of democracy and peace.
Since the ruling, Sonko hasn’t been seen or heard from. In a statement released on Friday, his PASTEF-Patriots party asked Senegalese people to “amplify and intensify the constitutional resistance” until President Sall leaves office.
Abdou Karim Fofana, a spokeswoman for the government, said that the damage from the months of protests had cost the country millions of dollars. He said that the protests were a danger to democracy.
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Fofana said, “These calls to protest are a bit like the anti-republican nature of all these movements that hide behind social networks and don’t believe in the foundations of democracy, which are elections, freedom of expression, but also the resources that our (legal) system offers.”
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