A minimum of 15 individuals killed in Senegal as opposition chief’s supporters conflict with police

DAKAR, Senegal — The variety of individuals killed in days of clashes between Senegalese police and supporters of opposition chief Ousmane Sonko has now risen to fifteen, together with two safety officers, the federal government stated on Saturday.

Clashes continued in pockets of town Friday night with demonstrators throwing rocks, burning vehicles and damaging supermarkets as police fired tear fuel and the federal government deployed the navy in tanks.

Sonko was convicted Thursday of corrupting youth however acquitted on costs of raping a lady who labored at a therapeutic massage parlor and making loss of life threats towards her. Sonko, who didn’t attend his trial in Dakar, was sentenced to 2 years in jail. His lawyer stated a warrant hadn’t been issued but for his arrest.

Sonko got here in third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is standard with the nation’s youth. His supporters preserve his authorized troubles are a part of a authorities effort to derail his candidacy within the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko is taken into account President Macky Sall’s principal competitors and has urged Sall to state publicly that he gained’t search a 3rd time period in workplace.

The worldwide neighborhood has referred to as on Senegal’s authorities to resolve the tensions. France’s ministry for Europe and overseas affairs stated it was “extraordinarily involved by the violence” and referred to as for a decision to this disaster, in line with Senegal’s lengthy democratic custom.

Rights teams have condemned the federal government crackdown, which has included arbitrary arrests and restrictions on social media. Some social media websites utilized by demonstrators to incite violence, similar to Fb, WhatsApp and Twitter have been suspended, for practically two days.

Senegalese are blaming the federal government for the violence and the lack of lives.

One lady, Seynabou Diop, instructed The Related Press on Saturday that her 21-year-old son, Khadim, was killed within the protests, shot by a bullet to the chest.

“I really feel deep ache. What’s occurring is difficult. Our kids are dying. I by no means thought I’d need to undergo this,” she stated.

This was the primary time her son, a disciplined and sort mechanic, had joined within the protests, speeding out of the home as quickly as he heard Sonko was convicted, she stated.

“I believe Macky Sall is accountable. If he’d talked to the Senegalese individuals, particularly younger individuals, possibly we wouldn’t have all these issues,” stated Diop. The Related Press can’t confirm the reason for loss of life. The household stated an post-mortem was underway.

Corrupting younger individuals, which incorporates utilizing one’s place of energy to have intercourse with individuals beneath the age of 21, is a prison offense in Senegal, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail and a tremendous of as much as $6,000.

Beneath Senegalese regulation, Sonko’s conviction would bar him from working in subsequent 12 months’s election, stated Bamba Cisse, one other protection lawyer. Nonetheless, the federal government stated that Sonko may ask for a retrial as soon as he was imprisoned. It was unclear when he can be taken into custody.

If violence continues, it may threaten the nation’s establishments, say analysts.

“By no means of their worst types of nightmare (would) Senegalese have considered witnessing the prevailing types of apocalyptic and irrational violence,” stated Alioune Tine, founding father of Afrikajom Middle, a West African suppose tank.

“Essentially the most shared feeling in regards to the present scenario is worry, stress, exhaustion and helplessness. Thus what the individuals are actually in search of for is peace,” he stated.

The West African nation has been seen as a bastion of democratic stability within the area.

Sonko hasn’t been heard from or seen because the verdict. In a press release Friday, his PASTEF-Patriots celebration referred to as on Senegalese to “amplify and intensify the constitutional resistance” till President Sall leaves workplace.

Authorities spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana stated the injury attributable to months of demonstrations had price the nation hundreds of thousands of {dollars}. He argued the protesters themselves posed a menace to democracy.

“These calls (to protest), it’s a bit just like the anti-republican nature of all these actions that conceal behind social networks and don’t consider within the foundations of democracy, that are elections, freedom of expression, but additionally the sources that our (authorized) system presents,” Fofana stated.

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