June 19, 2024

Senegal deploys troops to capital as Dakar braces for more unrest


Police and protestors have clashed in Senegal’s capital Dakar, as unrest picked up again one day after a jail sentence for opposition politician Ousmane Sonko sparked some of the deadliest violence in the country in recent memory.

On Thursday, Mr. Sonko received a two-year sentence for allegedly corrupting youths, a decision that triggered violent clashes between the police and his supporters, resulting in nine fatalities. The opposition has claimed that the court’s ruling was politically motivated and could potentially disqualify Mr. Sonko from participating in the upcoming countrywide elections.

On Friday, the streets of Dakar remained calm but were marked by burning cars, debris, shattered glass, and damaged residential and commercial properties. The government’s spokesperson, Abdou Karim Fofana, stated that the army had been deployed to enhance security measures.

At Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, violence erupted on Thursday, with protesters setting buses ablaze and pelting riot police with rocks. In response, tear gas was employed to disperse the crowd. Seeking to escape the unrest, Alioune Ndiaye, a student, expressed his intention to travel hundreds of kilometers to his hometown in eastern Senegal. “Yesterday was a difficult and violent day. My primary concern is that the academic year might be canceled,” he remarked.

The incident on Thursday was the latest episode in months of unrest in Senegal, a country long regarded as one of West Africa’s exemplary democracies. The unrest was instigated by Mr. Sonko’s court case and concerns that President Macky Sall might attempt to bypass the two-term limit and seek re-election in the upcoming February elections.

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