Two killed in Senegal in protests over arrest of opposition figure Sonko

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in Senegal to protest the detention of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, [Ngouda Dione/Reuters]

West African country’s interior ministry says it is taking measures to ‘preserve peace and tranquillity in the country’.

Two people have been killed in Senegal in protests sparked by the arrest of opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, according to the country’s interior ministry.

Two “lifeless male bodies” were discovered in the southern city of Ziguinchor, where 2024 presidential hopeful Sonko is mayor, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The ministry called on the public to stay calm and said it was taking measures to “preserve peace and tranquillity in the country”.

Demonstrators took to the streets on Monday as Sonko was remanded in custody on charges including plotting an insurrection and criminal association with a “terrorist” body.

Senegal’s Interior Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome on Monday announced that the government had dissolved Sonko’s Patriots of Senegal (PASTEF) party for inciting unrest during violent protests last month in the capital Dakar.

The announcement marked the first time a political party had been banned in the West African nation since it gained its independence from France in 1960.

A decree signed by Diome accused PASTEF of “frequently calling on its supporters to insurrectional movements, which has led to serious consequences, including loss of life, many wounded, as well as acts of looting of public and private property”.

PASTEF’s supporters have accused Senegalese President Macky Sall’s ruling party of trying to sideline his popular opponent, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, with trumped-up charges ahead of February’s vote.

Sonko, a 48-year-old former tax inspector, has faced a series of legal problems that he claims have been engineered to make him ineligible to run for the presidency in 2024.

In June, Sonko was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison after being accused of morally “corrupting” a young woman.

The judgement sparked violent clashes that left 16 dead, according to the government, with Sonko’s PASTEF party reporting nearly twice as many fatalities.

In May, an appeals court gave Sonko a heavier six-month suspended sentence in a defamation case involving the tourism minister.



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