Senegal in Turmoil: Deadly Protests as Opposition Leader Sentenced to Jail

Senegal in Turmoil: Deadly Protests as Opposition Leader Sentenced to Jail

DAKAR  - Violent clashes erupted in Senegal on Thursday between riot police and followers of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, resulting in the deaths of nine people. The clashes ensued after a court sentenced Sonko to a two-year prison term, posing a significant challenge to his potential presidential candidacy in the upcoming elections.

Sonko, aged 48, was absent from the court hearing related to allegations of Physical assault  against him. The justice ministry announced that he could be taken into custody at any moment. In response to the verdict, protests and unrest escalated in Dakar, the capital city, and other areas, while the police maintained a presence around Sonko's residence.

Ousmane Sonko, the opposition leader in Senegal, was accused of molest and making death threats against a woman who worked at a massage parlor in 2021 when she was 20 years old. Sonko has consistently denied these allegations, claiming that they are politically motivated.

While the criminal court acquitted Sonko of the molest charge, he was found guilty of a different offense categorized as immoral behavior towards individuals under the age of 21 according to the penal code.

One of Sonko's lawyers, Bamba Ciss, stated that due to this conviction, Sonko would be ineligible to run as a candidate, citing Senegal's electoral law.

Following the verdict, Ousmane Sonko's PASTEF party claimed that it was a result of a political conspiracy and urged citizens in a statement to engage in street protests and suspend all activities.

As a consequence of the verdict, violent protests erupted in various areas of Dakar and other cities. Interior Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome reported on state television that nine individuals lost their lives during the protests.

Earlier in the day, a thick cloud of black smoke emerged from a university campus in Dakar, where demonstrators set multiple buses on fire. They also pelted riot police with rocks, prompting the police to respond by deploying tear gas.

Violent protests erupted in Senegal following the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison for a charge related to immoral behavior. Sonko's party denounced the verdict as a political plot and called for street demonstrations. Nine people were killed during the protests, and the government restricted social media platforms, impacting communication. Sonko could request a retrial if he surrenders himself to authorities.

The case has fueled ongoing tensions in the country, with Sonko's supporters accusing the government of trying to prevent his candidacy in the upcoming elections. President Macky Sall has faced criticism for alleged job failures and restrictions on opposition criticism. Senegal, known for its democratic stability, has experienced heightened turmoil during Sall's second term. Additionally, Sonko is appealing another suspended prison sentence for libel.

The comments posted here are not from Cnews Live. Kindly refrain from using derogatory, personal, or obscene words in your comments.