A new person died Saturday in unrest in Dakar, bringing to 16 the number of deaths since the sentencing Thursday of Senegalese opponent Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison, according to the Ministry of the Interior, which notes a "clear decrease in points of tension and arrests". "Many activities resumed yesterday (Saturday) evening and this (Sunday) morning with the end of the ban on motorcycle traffic," he added.
Spontaneous demonstrations followed Thursday the conviction of opponent Ousmane Sonko, declared candidate for the presidential election of 2024, and sentenced to two years in prison for having pushed to "debauchery" a young woman under 21 years old. This decision makes him ineligible for the time being. Ousmane Sonko, popular with young people, has been crying out since the beginning of the case about a plot by President Macky Sall to eliminate him politically.
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On Saturday night, clashes broke out in some localized points of the capital, its suburbs and in the south of the country, but of much less intensity than during the first two days of protest that officially left 15 dead. The presence of security forces decreased slightly on Sunday.
Social networks, such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, are still cut off by the government but the interior minister hinted Saturday night that they would be restored when the situation calmed down. Calls for restraint and dialogue have multiplied over the past two days from several countries, international organizations and Senegalese personalities, such as singer Youssou N'Dour or footballer Sadio Mané. But the camps of Ousmane Sonko and Macky Sall blame each other for the violence and deaths.
In a statement on Sunday, Pastef, Ousmane Sonko's party, condemned "the murderous repression of the defense and security forces" and accused the government of using "private militias" to "subdue" the civilian population. It gives a death toll of 19 among the demonstrators. He urges the Senegalese "to defend themselves by all means and to fight back". The government denounces for its part the "acts of vandalism and banditry", the work of supporters of Ousmane Sonko supported by "occult forces", "foreigners" who came to "destabilize the country" and "plunge it into chaos".
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Interior Minister Antoine Diome said "about 500 arrests" have been made since the beginning of the protest movement. Some of them belong to political parties but the majority do not have party affiliation, he said. Security forces remain ubiquitous in the capital. The army deployed around strategic points.