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Escalating Unrest In Senegal Leads To Increasing Death Toll

Escalating unrest in Senegal leads to increasing death toll as the violence has resulted to the death of 15 individuals, according to the government's latest update on Saturday. The clashes between supporters of convicted opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and the police persisted, although Dakar experienced a relatively calmer day.

Cecilia Jones
Jun 04, 20232626 Shares119386 Views
Escalating unrest in Senegal leads to increasing death tollas the violence has resulted to the death of 15 individuals, according to the government's latest update on Saturday. The clashes between supporters of convicted opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and the police persisted, although Dakar experienced a relatively calmer day.
Throughout the evening, confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officers continued in residential areas. Protesters resorted to hurling rocks at the police, setting up roadblocks, and setting tires on fire. The presence of the military was observed patrolling the streets, while tear gas was employed by the police to disperse the demonstrators. Authorities also conducted inspections and detained individuals suspected of causing trouble.
The initial outbreak of violence occurred on Thursday, following Sonko's conviction for corrupting youth. However, he was acquitted of charges related to the alleged rape of a massage parlor employee and making death threats against her. Sonko, who did not attend his trial in Dakar, has been sentenced to a two-year prison term. His lawyer mentioned that an arrest warrant had not been issued as of yet.
Ousmane Sonko, who secured the third position in Senegal's 2019 presidential election, enjoys significant popularity among the country's youth. His supporters firmly believe that his ongoing legal issues are a deliberate attempt by the government to undermine his potential candidacy in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.
As President Macky Sall's primary political rival, Sonko has urged Sall to publicly declare that he will not seek a third term in office. The international community has expressed its concerns and called upon the Senegalese government to address the escalating tensions and find a resolution.
Human rights organizations have strongly criticized the government's response, which has involved arbitrary arrests and the imposition of restrictions on social media platforms. Several social media channels, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, have been suspended for nearly two days due to their alleged use by demonstrators to incite violence. The government has faced blame from these groups for both the violence and the loss of lives that have occurred during the clashes.
In Senegal, corrupting young individuals, which encompasses engaging in sexual activities with individuals below the age of 21 using one's position of power, is considered a criminal offense. The law stipulates that those found guilty can face a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $6,000.
Several police men in the streets to wade off protesters
Several police men in the streets to wade off protesters
According to Bamba Cisse, another defense lawyer involved in the case, Sonko's conviction under Senegalese law would disqualify him from running in the upcoming election next year. However, the government has stated that Sonko would have the option to request a retrial once he is in custody. The timing of his arrest and subsequent imprisonment remains uncertain.
Since the verdict, Ousmane Sonko has not made any public appearances or statements. His whereabouts remain unknown. On Friday, Sonko's political party, PASTEF-Patriots, released a statement urging the public to escalate and intensify their constitutional resistance until President Sall steps down from office.

Conclusion

Government spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana expressed concerns over the extensive financial losses incurred due to the months-long protests. He argued that the demonstrators posed a threat to the democratic system in Senegal.
According to Fofana:
These calls [to protest], it’s 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.- Government spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana
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