Ousmane Sonko’s arrest in Senegal raises fears of new tensions

Ousmane Sonko knew he could be arrested at any time. But just when no one expected it, the opponent was arrested. Since he was sentenced to two years in prison for “corruption of the youth”, 1er in June, the Ministry of Justice had indicated that his detention could take place “Once a decision is made [de justice] available”. Were they afraid of further unrest given Mr. Sonko’s ability to mobilize the streets in Dakar? In any case, the authorities preferred to de facto place him under house arrest rather than transfer him to Rebeus Prison.

On Friday, July 28, to the surprise of his opponent and his relatives, Ousmane Sonko was imprisoned, but in a new case. According to public prosecutor Abdu Karim Diop, who spoke to the press on Saturday, Ousmane Sonko is now accused of “inciting rebellion”, “criminal association”, “undermining national security”. company’, ‘conspiracy against state power’, ‘acts aimed at endangering public security and causing serious political disturbances’ and ‘theft’ for acts committed between March 2021 and June 2023.

All these procedures that we have established, which have caused incalculable damage as well as more than forty deaths, inevitably converge on Ousmane Sonko. “, the prosecutor explained. According to a spokesman for the opposition party El Malick Ndiaye, Mr. Sonko was “the judge who will be charged is heard before the arrest warrant is applied” late Saturday afternoon. “We will try to blame him for all the events that have happened in the last two years.”condemned Mr. Sonko’s legal representative, Demba Cire Bathilya.

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An important police force

On Saturday, as the prosecutor began his press conference, clashes began to be reported in some districts of Dakar. A day earlier, one of the stations of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) site was vandalized and the incidents occurred in Dakar and Ziguinchor, Kasamance, whose mayor is Mr. Sonko, and no injuries were reported. The fact that the arrest took place on a public holiday, the day after the Achoura festival, undoubtedly limited the mobilization of his supporters.

However, a significant police presence was seen on several of Dakar’s arteries on Saturday and a motorcycle ban was imposed until Monday. Measures that revealed the fears of the authorities. At least 26 people were killed in riots that followed the opposition’s condemnation in early June, according to Amnesty International.

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The opposition coalition Yewwi Askan Wi (“Free the People”) condemned a “another drift” power while Osmane Sonko’s party Pastef speaks “relentless” and the continuity of the Macky Sall project “Prevent their leader from being a presidential candidate in 2024”. Each of these lawsuits exposes the opponent to the risk of being found ineligible. Mr Sonko, previously on trial in the Adji Sarr case and defamation case against the tourism minister, is already at risk of being excluded from the race for the top job. Seven months before the election, the judicial authorities have yet to publicly clarify his situation.

President Macky Sall, long accused by the opposition of wanting to run for a third term, has dispelled doubts: ” My long-considered decision is not to stand for election, even though the Constitution gives me the right to do so.he said in early July, partly easing political tensions that had become stifling.

Georgie Collins

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