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|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 11 Mar 2021 : 11:32:40
Sonko calls for more protests amid release
The Point: Mar 10, 2021
Senegal opposition leader Ousmane Sonko called on Monday for more protests against President Macky Sall after being indicted and released on bail over a rape charge that has sparked violent unrest across the country.
Sonko’s release was cheered by participants in the protests that have buffeted one of West Africa’s most stable democracies in the past week, leaving at least eight dead in clashes with police, according to rights group Amnesty International.
After being freed, Sonko asked supporters to continue demonstrations, but emphasised they should be peaceful.
“We are not asking the people to go and unseat Macky Sall,” he said at a news conference.
“But let’s be clear, the revolution is marching its way to 2024,” he said in reference to the next presidential election.
Earlier hundreds gathered outside the courthouse waving flags and chanting “Free Sonko” before beginning to march as army tanks patrolled downtown streets.
It was unclear how his release would affect plans for three days of nationwide protests from Monday. The unrest is the worst the country has seen in years as youth also vent frustrations about unemployment, inequality and corruption.
In his first public comments since the start of the turmoil, Sall said he understood why young people had taken to the streets.
“Because you don’t have a job, because you aspire to a better future,” he said in a televised speech, pledging to provide extra funding to support employment and entrepreneurship.
He promised to shorten a nightly pandemic-linked curfew that has proved particularly unpopular, stifling the informal economy on which millions depend.
“I will use all the powers conferred on me by my office to support a return to calm,” he assured.
Political pressure has risen against Sall, whose tenure has been plagued by accusations that he unjustly torpedoes political challengers and worries that he may seek to extend his rule beyond his allotted two-term limit.
Sonko, who finished third in the 2019 presidential election, was arrested last Wednesday after an employee of a beauty salon accused him of raping her. He denies the accusation and says it is an attempt by Sall to kneecap a rival.
The government denies this.
Many are suspicious of the accusations against Sonko because two other prominent rivals of Sall were previously targeted by criminal charges that prevented them from running for president in 2019. Source: (Reuters)
Meanwhile Sonko in a different engagement puts in 10 points as requirements for the state to fulfil:
Justice for the martyrs of democracy and effective care for the wounded;
Compensation for the families of the victims;
Criminal prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against peaceful demonstrators;
Immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
Respect for the electoral calendar and organization of free and transparent elections;
Explicit and public renunciation of the third unconstitutional mandate;
Rehabilitation in their civil and political rights of Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade;
Final peace in natural Cassamance;
Immediate trial to clarify this plot;
Full political and movement freedom of President Ousmane Sonko.
|1 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 29 Mar 2021 : 16:09:31
Macky Sall under fire over Sonko affairs
The Standard: March 29, 2021
Confronted with urban riots after the judicial indictment of oppositionist leader Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s President Macky Sall is experiencing the most serious crisis since his accession to power.
Demonstrators were dispersed and pursued in the streets of Dakar by armed rioters that the forces of order turned a blind eye to. Total stations and Auchan supermarkets were ransacked by protesters. Tear gas and stun grenades were thrown in response to stone-throwing. Army tanks were positioned at strategic points in the capital.
And finally, according to Amnesty International, 11 people – including a 12-year-old child – died from bullets fired by the forces of order.
Not since the protests held in 2011-2012 against the controversial constitutional reform project and Aboulaye Wade’s third presidential candidacy, has Dakar experienced such scenes of rioting.
For Senegal’s President Macky Sall, re-elected in February 2019 to a five-year term, the riots at the start of March were a late baptism by fire.
“We are all witnesses to the demonstrations of rare violence that have broken out in recent days in Dakar. Nothing, no cause, can justify these regrettable acts,” said the head of state on the evening of 8 March, in an impromptu speech intended to lower the tension.
Usually praised for its stability, the country of Teranga has made an unusual appearance on the front pages of international media because of this outbreak of discontent which also set other cities in the country ablaze, from Thies to Ziguinchor.
“We didn’t expect such demonstrations, we were taken by surprise,” says a minister. While one editor described it as a barricaded regime, some government ministers chose to lodge their families in hotels while waiting for a lull.
At the heart of this unprecedented wave of protests lies a legal case that could have remained confined to the news. It concerns an accusation of rape made by the employee of a Dakar massage parlour.
The only difference is that Ousmane Sonko, the 46-year-old politician targeted by the young woman, is now seen as one of the last surviving members of a Senegalese opposition weakened by successive scandals and accusations of corruption which have targeted several of its leaders.
These include Khalifa Sall, Dakar’s former mayor, who has been stripped of his post due to a judicial conviction and former minister Karim Wade, who has been exiled to Qatar since 2016 after a stay of more than three years in Rebeuss prison.
|Bantaba in Cyberspace
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