DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Days of violent protests in Senegal have killed at least one person, local reports say, as young people take to the streets in defense of the main opposition leader arrested on Wednesday.
According to reports, one person was killed Thursday when police clashed with demonstrators in the southern city of Bignona Kasamanse. Further clashes were expected on Friday after the opposition called on the people to take to the streets.
The protests began before opposition leader Usman Sonko appeared in court on rape charges. He was detained on the way to the courthouse and arrested for disorderly conduct when hundreds of his supporters clashed with police blocking unsanctioned protests.
Complaints have grown since then. Several stores belonging to the large Auchan grocery chain were looted and burned, as were Total petrol stations, which appeared to be attacks on French property interests. Democrats also attacked Rfm radio station Le Soleil government newspaper.
In a statement issued Thursday evening, the government condemned the violence, saying “provocateurs, criminals, accomplices will be sought and prosecuted in accordance with the law.” The government warned “against some media coverage of the trend, which could lead to hatred and violence.”
The riots in the capital are the worst in recent years in a country known for its stability.
Sonko, 46, who was in third place in the 2019 elections, was accused of being raped by a beauty salon employee last month. He was summoned to appear in court on Wednesday after being stripped of his parliamentary immunity last Wednesday.
Sonko has been a strong opponent of President Maki Sol since 2012. Sonko, popular among young people in Senegal և his supporters say the accusations are politically motivated և they accuse him of plotting to harm Salin Sonko before 2024.
Senegal authorities shut down two private television stations 72 hours late on Thursday. The National Audiovisual Council has accused Sen TV of inciting riots on Walf TV for repeatedly airing content that “openly or indirectly advocates violence”.