Senegal opposition calls more protests over leader's trial

AFP , Friday 24 Mar 2023

The Senegalese opposition kept up the pressure on the government on Friday, calling for fresh protests over the high-stakes trial of one of its leaders.

Supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko
File Photo: Supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko demonstrate for the third consecutive day in Dakar, Senegal Thursday March 16, 2023. Authorities forcibly removed Sonko from his vehicle and escorted him to a court appearance, blocking his supporters from following and sparking unrest in several parts of the capital. AP


Violence has flared in several cities since Ousmane Sonko's defamation trial opened on March 16, a case that could make him ineligible to contest next year's presidential elections.

The Yewwi Askan Wi coalition, whose name means "Liberate the People" in the local Wolof language, called for protests in Dakar next Wednesday and throughout the country on April 3.

The opposition is demanding "the release as soon as possible of all political detainees" and calling for support for Sonko, whose trial continues.

Senegal's President Macky Sall asked the government on Wednesday to take measures to "preserve public order" after the protests over the trial left at least one person dead.

A conviction for Sonko in this, or a separate rape case that has not gone to court, could prevent him from contesting next year's presidential election.

Sall has denied Sonko's accusation that the judiciary is being used to sideline him from the vote.

Protests and clashes have occurred in several towns. Many activists of Sonko's party have been arrested and some jailed.

Sonko is being tried for allegedly defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, a member of President Sall's party.

The opposition leader has been receiving medical treatment since he was allegedly sprayed with tear gas and manhandled last week as authorities escorted him to a courthouse.

The next hearing in Sonko's trial has been postponed until March 30.

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