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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Clashes in Senegal depart not less than 9 {dead}; authorities bans use of social media platforms

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DAKAR, Senegal — Clashes between police and supporters of Senegalese opposition chief Ousmane Sonko left 9 individuals {dead}, the federal government mentioned Friday, with authorities issuing a blanket ban on the usage of a number of social media platforms within the aftermath of the violence.

The deaths occurred primarily within the capital, Dakar, and Ziguinchor within the south, the place Sonko is mayor, Inside Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome mentioned in a press release.

Some social media websites utilized by demonstrators to incite violence, similar to Fb, WhatsApp and Twitter have been suspended, he mentioned.

“The state of Senegal has taken each measure to ensure the protection of individuals and property. We’re going to reinforce safety in all places within the nation,” Diome mentioned.

Sonko was convicted Thursday of corrupting youth however acquitted on fees of raping a lady who labored at a therapeutic massage parlor and making loss of life threats towards her. The courtroom sentenced Sonko to 2 years in jail. He did not attend his trial in Dakar, and was judged in absentia. His lawyer mentioned a warrant hadn’t been issued but for the politician’s arrest.

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Sonko got here in third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is widespread with the nation’s youth. His supporters preserve his authorized troubles are a part of a authorities effort to derail his candidacy within the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko is taken into account President Macky Sall’s fundamental competitors and has urged Sall to state publicly that he will not search a 3rd time period in workplace.

Corrupting younger individuals, which incorporates utilizing one’s place of energy to have intercourse with individuals beneath the age of 21, is a legal offense in Senegal that’s punishable by as much as 5 years in jail and a high-quality of as much as greater than $6,000.

Beneath Senegalese legislation, his conviction would bar Sonko from operating in subsequent 12 months’s election, mentioned Bamba Cisse, one other protection lawyer.

“The conviction for corruption of youth hinders his eligibility, as a result of he was sentenced in absentia, so we are able to’t attraction,” Cisse mentioned.

Nonetheless, the federal government mentioned that Sonko can ask for a retrial as soon as he’s imprisoned. It was unclear when he can be taken into custody.

Shortly after the decision was introduced Thursday, clashes erupted all through the nation with Sonko’s PASTEF celebration calling for individuals to take to the streets.

In Dakar, protesters threw rocks, burned autos and in some locations erected barricades whereas police fired tear gasoline. Plumes of black smoke and the sound of tear gasoline being fired had been seen and heard all through town. Those that weren’t protesting stayed indoors, leaving a lot of Dakar a ghost city with boarded-up outlets and empty streets as individuals feared the violence would escalate.

“The decision cements the criticism that Sall’s authorities is weaponizing the judiciary to remove distinguished rivals that would shake his rule,” mentioned Mucahid Durmaz, senior analyst at international threat intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft.

“Regardless of being offered as a beacon (of) democracy, the Sonko {cases} display the structural points Senegal grapples with. The courtroom determination and the prospect of Sall’s bid for a 3rd time period within the election subsequent 12 months will gas fierce criticism round erosion of judicial independence and democratic backsliding,” Dumaz mentioned.

Authorities spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana mentioned that the injury brought on by months of demonstrations has value the nation tens of millions of {dollars}.

“These calls (to protest), it’s a bit just like the anti-republican nature of all these actions that conceal behind social networks and don’t consider within the foundations of democracy, that are elections, freedom of expression, but in addition the assets that our (authorized) system gives,” Fofana mentioned.

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