Senegal Protests Worsen After Arrest Of Ousmane Sonko

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Senegal Protests Worsen After Arrest Of Ousmane Sonko
A demonstrator waves a Senegalese national flag during protests in support of main opposition leader and former presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko in Dakar, Senegal, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Sonko was arrested Wednesday on charges of disturbing the public order after hundreds of his supporters clashed with police while he was heading to the court to face rape charges. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The arrest of Senegalese opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko has worsened the protests in the country, leaving four killed.

The protests, which has been ongoing for four days, began as a rebellion against the ruling of the court that Sonko’s stay in prison is extended.

Antoine Felix Adboulaye Diome, Senegal’s Minister of Interior rendered a speech. He called for a return to order. This was after the Senegalese police fired tear gas as they clashed with supporters of the opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.

The country still awaits the speech of the country’s president. However, several looting activities are fast becoming the norm in popular districts such as Point E, Sacré Coeur and Liberté 6 (where Auchan shops were targeted and Total petrol stations).

During this period, the broadcast of SEN TV and WalfAdjiri have been cut for two days. The two stations have now been switched to YouTube. However, the NetBlog organisation has observed a decline in the connectivity of Senegal on Youtube and Whatsapp.

The premises of the Futur Media group, Youssou N’Dour’s press group were ransacked while all these have been ongoing.

The clashes broke out on Wednesday between Sonko’s supporters and the police as he was on his way to the court for a case where he faced rape accusations.

The protesters are, however, not willing to give up their fight and cause as they have threatened to further worsen their activities by wrecking more havoc and instigating violence if Sonko, whom they regard as their leader, is not released.

“We issue a warning to President Macky. Let him know that he has not touched Sonko but the youth because Sonko is the hope of an entire nation. All we want is for him to set him free. If he doesn’t, today we’re on a break, we’ll listen to him by tomorrow. If we don’t hear from him, we’ll do worse than we have already done,” said a protester.

“If he sees the message of our peaceful march, we will demonstrate peacefully. But if he doesn’t react, we will opt for violence. We will destroy everything. If he locks him up, we will find him in the palace”, he continued.

46-year-old Sonko, who is due to appear before a judge in Dakar on Monday to answer questions about the rape charge, is popular with young Senegalese voters.

He has capitalised on frustrations over stubborn poverty and the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although he ran against President Macky Sall in 2019,  he finished third in a race that delivered the incumbent a second term.

Sonko is seen as a possible contender to Sall in 2024. However, his political future came into doubt in February after an employee at a beauty salon where he received massages filed rape charges against him.

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