Senegal: the power deploys the armed forces in Dakar

Senegalese authorities deployed armed forces to Dakar on Friday, a day after violence following the sentencing of 2024 presidential candidate Ousmane Sonko left nine people dead.

Interior Minister Antoine Diom said overnight, “Calling for the peace and tranquility of our fellow citizens, the Senegalese state has taken all measures to guarantee the safety of people and property.” Country.

AFP reporters said men wearing fatigues and battle rifles were deployed at various points in Dakar, the usually busy capital with streets packed and activity almost paralysed.

AFP was at first unable to identify their respective bodies.

Shops on entire streets are still closed for fear of looting, scars of the previous day’s violence. The university in particular has been the scene of protracted skirmishes and widespread destruction.

Students have been asked to leave campus and are struggling to collect their belongings before finding transport to take them elsewhere.

Many Dakar residents have decided not to go out because of fear for their safety or because of the lack of means of transportation.

Senegal (AFP- Vincent Lefai, Laurence Soubadu)

According to him, the government has restricted access to social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter in order to prevent “the spread of hateful and subversive messages”.

Several districts of Dakar, Casamance (south) and various cities fell victim to a new outbreak on Thursday, fueled by the position of Ousmane Sonko, a fierce opponent of President Macky Sall, who has been engaged in a fierce battle for power for two years . Its juridical and political existence.

Before Thursday’s events, about 20 civilians had been killed since 2021 in unrest related to Mr Sonko’s position. The officers and Mr. Sonko’s camp blame each other for this.

– “held captive”? ,

Senegal experienced clashes between youths and security forces on Thursday, vandalism of shops and public facilities, and an invasion of the highway between Dakar and the international airport.

Interior Minister Antoine Diomé announced the nine deaths on national television.

Mr Sonko, third in the 2019 presidential election, was sentenced on Thursday by a criminal chamber to two years in prison for “abusing” a young woman under 21.

On the other hand, the court acquitted him of the charges of rape and death threats against this employee of a beauty salon where she was going to get massages between 2020 and 2021, for which he was prosecuted.

In keeping with the election code of conduct, the decision appears to have resulted in Mr Sanko’s disqualification.

The latter has continued to deny the allegations, shouting a conspiracy by those in power to oust him from the presidential election.

Power denies and the Minister of the Interior reiterated in the night that the matter was a “dispute” of a private nature.

Mr Sonko was absent when the judgment was pronounced. According to him, he has been “abducted” by security forces from his home in the capital.

Justice Minister Ismaila Madior Fall told reporters, however, that he could now be arrested “at any time” after a two-year confrontation with authorities that kept the country in suspense.

Such an arrest is likely to spark anger.

Mr. Sonko’s relatively young age, his sovereignist and pan-African discourse, his defense of religious values ​​and traditions, his opposition to economic and political influence by what he perceived as the “state mafia”, multinationals and France, a former colonial power, earned strong support among young people looking for possibilities and hope in a difficult economic and social environment. People under the age of 20 represent half the population.

Another factor in the tension is the ambiguity kept by President Seoul on whether or not he intends to seek a third mandate in 2024.

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