Africa

Senegal unrest: Teen killed in protests as opposition steps up pressure

  • A
    teenage boy, 17, was killed by gunfire during protests that boiled over in
    southern Senegal during which several police stations were ransacked.
  • In
    the southern town of Diaobe, where the boy was killed, protesters also burned
    down a military police station and ransacked several government buildings.
  • At
    least five people have died in the protests, brought on by the arrest of opposition
    leader Ousmane Sonko on Wednesday.

DAKAR
– A 17-year-old boy was killed by gunfire in southern Senegal on Saturday, a
government official said, and several police stations were ransacked as
opponents of President Macky Sall called for more protests next week.

The
boy was killed during clashes in the southern town of Diaobe, said the
official, who asked not to be named. Protesters also burned down a military
police station and ransacked several government buildings, the official said.

At
least five people have died in protests sparked by Wednesday’s arrest of
Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s most prominent opposition leader. It is the worst
political unrest in years for a country widely seen as one of West Africa’s
most stable.

A
spokesperson for Senegal’s military police confirmed one person had died during
clashes in Diaobe, but did not say under what circumstances. He said protesters
ransacked six police stations across the country on Saturday.

Other grievances

Sonko,
who finished third in the 2019 presidential election, was arrested after an
employee of a beauty salon accused him of raping her. Sonko denies the
allegation and says it is an attempt by Sall to kneecap a political rival.

The
government denies this.

Protesters clash with gendarmes in Dakar

Protesters clash with gendarmes near their barracks in Colobane neighbourhood in Dakar on 5 March 2021.

The
mostly young protesters cited a range of other grievances too, including high
unemployment and strict measures to control the coronavirus that have inflicted
economic pain, especially on informal workers.

Many
are especially dubious about the accusation against Sonko because two other top
rivals of Sall were previously targeted by criminal charges that prevented them
from running for president in 2019.

In
a statement, the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) coalition called
for three days of nationwide protests beginning on Monday.

It said:

M2D … calls on the Senegalese people to pursue its mobilisation and peaceful struggle by using all of its constitutional rights to reject the dictatorship of Macky Sall.



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