Pre-election violence kills two in Senegal

Three opposition figures were arrested, Pastef party spokesman Ousseynou Ly said. Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and Dakar mayor Barthélémy Dias, another ardent critic of President Macky Sall, were prevented from leaving their homes by security forces, he said.

Different neighborhoods of the capital were the scene of clashes between young people throwing stones and police keeping them at a distance with tear gas or dispersing them with stun grenades in the smoke of burning tires. In Casamance (south), the opposition accused the security forces of firing live ammunition.

In Dakar, a young man or a young woman, according to the sources, perished when a projectile set fire to a room where he or she was, said an official of the Red Cross on condition of anonymity. The press and the opposition reported a second death in Bignona, Casamance.

Many Senegalese feared this rise in tensions since the authorities had banned the opposition on Wednesday from demonstrating this Friday afternoon. The opposition intended to protest against the invalidation of a national list of candidates for the legislative elections of July 31. She had warned that she would override the ban.

– Demonstrators turned back –

Platoons of police in riot gear, backed by armored vehicles, prevented anyone from approaching Place de la Nation where the rally was to take place, away from the political and economic center of the capital.

The police drove small mobile groups back to the adjacent streets, harassing them with stones.

It’s really bad for business“, lamented Bilan Diop, 32, leaning on a railing along the vast avenue strewn with pebbles leading to the deserted esplanade of the Nation.Look at my store, it’s closed, all the stores are closed as we approach the Tabaski“, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice, conducive to trade.

So far, it seems under control. But what will happen next, we don’t know“, worried with detonations in the background Bamba Diop, 30, who earns his living by renting parking spaces.

Unrest was reported in other parts of the capital, as well as in Ziguinchor, Casamance.

In the morning, the police laid siege to Ousmane Sonko’s home in the well-to-do Dakar district of Mermoz, determined to prevent him from carrying out his declared intention to defy the ban on demonstrations.

At midday, they prevented him from going to the big weekly prayer.

Even our freedom of worship is violated today“, said Mr. Sonko calmly, dressed in the traditional boubou for prayer, after coming up against a barrage of police.

– Arrests –

Power yields to the “panic“, assured Mr. Sonko, third in the presidential election of 2019, declared candidate for that of 2024, and popular among young people.

Three opposition figures, Déthié Fall, Ahmet Aidara and Mame Diarra Fame, were arrested, said the spokesman for Mr. Sonko’s party.

AFP was unable to obtain confirmation of these arrests as well as the two deaths from the authorities.

The opposition denounces the invalidation of the national list of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition, led by Mr. Sonko’s party, as a ploy by President Macky Sall to ward off his opponents. The invalidation excludes Mr. Sonko and certain opposition figures from the legislative elections.

The power and the opposition have given no sign of wanting to compromise and analysts generally describe a political stalemate.

Many voices have been raised to call for dialogue in the face of the risk of violence similar to the riots which, in March 2021, left a dozen people dead in the country.

The opposition has threatened to prevent the elections from taking place if Yewwi Askan Wi does not participate. In fact, Yewwi can still compete with a national list, but made up of alternates.

President Sall closed the door to a repechage of the invalidated list. “Anyway, the country is going to hold these elections, the Constitutional Council has decided“, did he declare.

The questioning of Mr. Sonko by the courts in a case of alleged rape had contributed in March 2021 to several days of riots, looting and destruction.


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