More unrest in Senegal as police clash with opposition supporters

unrest in Senegal as police clash with opposition supporters

POLICE and demonstrators clashed again in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, on Thursday ahead of a court case involving opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, who has gained widespread support among the youth.

Police fired tear gas at hundreds of Sonko supporters as they trailed vehicles taking him to court for the resumption of a libel case against him.

Protesters burned tyres on the streets and hurled stones at police and a major supermarket was set on fire.

Sonko, 48, is also charged with raping a beauty salon employee in 2021 and making deaths threats against her. He denies all wrongdoing and said the accusations are politically motivated.

Thursday’s skirmishes are the latest round of unrest in Senegal, where the country has long been seen as a bastion of stability and democracy in a restive region, a reputation shaken by deadly violence over the last two years.

Much of the anger was targeted towards President Macky Sall, whose failure to rule out running for a third term in office has angered many.

Senegal’s constitution only allows two terms, but some fear that Sall will use a recent tweak to the constitution to reset his mandate, repeating a tactic used by other rulers to extend power in the region.

Tensions have flared ahead of Sonko’s court appearance this week, with three days of protest.

Over 10,000 supporters gathered at a field in Dakar on Tuesday to cheer on Sonko, who hopes to run for president in February 2024.

Sonko supporters accuse President Macky Sall of seeking to eliminate him from the competition with a guilty verdict. (Reuters/NAN)