Sonko case in Senegal: the political and social storm is worsening

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Tensions continue to rise in Senegal and the situation is more and more perilous since the arrest, this Thursday, of the opponent Ousmane Sonko. The country has just recorded a first death as the authorities suspended two private televisions accused of fueling violence and media deemed close to power by the opposition were attacked in the evening. “There is one deceased among the demonstrators in Bignona”, in Casamance (South), told AFP a commander of the gendarmerie.

In the labyrinth of a rape case

Mr. Sonko, 46, was to be heard on charges of rape and death threats filed against him by an employee of a beauty salon where he was going to get a massage to, he said, relieve his back pain. Personality with an anti-system profile and impetuous speech, the deputy refutes these accusations, unveiled in early February in the press. He shouts at the plot hatched by President Macky Sall to remove him from the next presidential election. The president denied. “We demand an independent investigation to shed light on the circumstances of the death of young Cheikh Coly, 20” in Bignona, had previously tweeted the director of Amnesty International Senegal, Seydi Gassama.

Clashes in Dakar and in the provinces

The demonstrations “gave rise to regrettable acts of vandalism and violence, which unfortunately led to the death of a man in the person of Sheikh Ibrahima Coly”, confirmed the government by “strongly condemning the acts of violence, looting and destruction ”, while the West African country is renowned for its stability. In Dakar, groups of young people and the police exchanged stone throwing and tear gas fire on Wednesday. The media and social networks have reported the looting of stores. The clashes continued Thursday, especially on the campus of Cheikh-Anta-Diop University in Dakar, where dozens of students faced the police at the end of the afternoon by throwing pieces of cinder block at them, according to journalists. from AFP. Clashes have been reported in other cities, including Casamance, where Mr. Sonko, third in the 2019 presidential election and expected to be one of the main candidates for that of 2024, enjoys strong support.

Media in the eye of the storm

In the evening, the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA) announced to suspend for 72 hours the signal of two private televisions, Sen TV and Walf TV, to which it criticized the broadcasting “in loop of images of violence” . The government “warns against the biased coverage of events by certain media, likely to fuel hatred and violence,” he also said in his statement. On Thursday evening, the headquarters of media deemed close to the government was targeted by angry protesters. “We were attacked with Molotov cocktails and large stones. The attackers were numerous. They smashed vehicles and windows. We used fire extinguishers. The attack lasted at least a quarter of an hour, ”Daouda Mané, editor of the government daily, told AFP. The sun. A journalist from RFM radio, belonging to the singer’s private press group and former minister Youssou N’Dour, El Hadji Assane Guèye, reported “significant damage”, including “at least one burnt car”, on the outskirts of his house. writing.

Sonko expected again in court this Friday

Ousmane Sonko’s lawyers told AFP that the MP was again expected in court on Friday. “He will be taken to the examining magistrate tomorrow by will or by force,” said one of them, Abdoulaye Tall. During his custody, the deputy remained silent to “protest against the violations” of his rights, according to another of his lawyers, Cheikh Khouraissy Ba. The Minister of the Interior Antoine Félix Abdoulaye Diome justified the arrest of Mr. Sonko by the ban on gatherings enacted because of the Covid-19 and by a traffic plan put in place by the authorities.

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