DAKAR – Senegal President Macky Sall has called for the government to take measures to “preserve public order” following violent protests over the trial of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, which left at least one person dead.
The protests were sparked by the defamation trial of Sonko, which opened on March 16 and could potentially make him ineligible to contest the 2024 presidential elections.
The violence erupted in several cities, with clashes between Sonko’s supporters and police resulting in the death of a man on Tuesday, according to local officials.
President Sall has urged the government to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of people and property.
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 last week when he was allegedly sprayed with tear gas and manhandled by authorities as he was escorted to a courthouse.
The trial has been postponed until March 30, and tensions remain high. A spokesman for Sonko’s party has accused the government of using the trial as a means of eliminating their political opponents.
He said, “The government’s only objective is to eliminate the opposition and ensure that President Sall remains in power indefinitely.”
The trial of Sonko has also drawn international attention, with the United Nations calling on Senegal to ensure a fair trial and respect the rights of all individuals involved in the case.
Amnesty International has also expressed concern about the use of excessive force by authorities during the protests.
Senegal has a long tradition of peaceful democracy, and the current unrest is a cause for concern for many.
As the trial continues, it remains to be seen whether the government will be able to maintain order and ensure a fair and just legal process.